IOM vessel to evacuate migrants from Libyan port

12th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A vessel capable of carrying 1,000 people is heading to the rebel-held Libyan port of Misrata to evacuate stranded migrants, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday.

The boat, which departed from Brindisi in southern Italy, will first make a stop at the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to load aid supplies before sailing on to Misrata.

"IOM has chartered the vessel to make two rotations between Benghazi and Misrata -- a distance of 500 kilometres, but hopes to eventually evacuate 7,000 to 8,000 migrants," said Jumbe Omari Jumbe, spokesman for the inter-governmental agency.

The International Committee of the Red Cross had warned on Sunday that several thousand foreign migrants were stranded in Misrata, living under temporary shelter by the port while the town was bombarded.

It cited local Red Crescent estimates of between 6,000 and 7,000 people from Egypt, Sudan, Chad and other countries figuring among these migrants.

"Many people may come out of hiding when they hear about the arrival of the ship," said IOM director for the Middle East and North Africa, Pasquale Lupoli.

"We are therefore making continency plans for more evacuations."

Those evacuated from Misrata would be taken to Benghazi from where they would be bussed to the Egyptian border, added the IOM.

© 2011 AFP

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