IOM evacuates 133 Senegalese from Libya with more to come
By Libya Herald staff. Tripoli, 27 February 2015:
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has successfully organised the evacuation of 133 Senegalese men from the Karareem reception centre in Misrata to Djerba, Tunisia, from where they will then fly on to Dakar.
The evacuees are part of a group of 401 Senegalese IOM plans to return to Senegal over the next week, IOM has said.
According to the organisation, thousands of Senegalese have been waiting for months for the opportunity to be transported safely back to their homeland.
The group departed Misrata Thursday afternoon in a three-bus convoy that included an ambulance and a police escort. The journey took six hours, but the men spent another nine hours on the buses waiting for clearance at the border.
Once in Tunisia, the convoy headed to Djerba, from where a series of charter flights took them home —the first of which was expected to arrive in Dakar tonight, IOM said.
The majority of the funding for the operation was provided by IOM’s European Union-funded “START” project: “Stabilising at risk communities and enhancing migration management to enable smooth transition in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.” START has invested nearly €10 million in North Africa since 2012..
IOM has helped almost 200,000 stranded migrants to leave Libya since 2011, which is a complex process, according to IOM Libya mission chief Othman Belbeisi.
“It’s difficult not just because the continuing violence hinders the organisation’s presence on the ground” he said,”Many stranded migrants also no longer have their original travel documents”.
The IOM maintains that a significant number of foreign nationals who may also need assistance, still resides in Libya. These include, it says, over a million Egyptians and 300,000 others from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
“We must stand ready to assist thousands of extremely vulnerable people who need our help,” said IOM director general William Lacy Swing.