Libya's neighbours await new refugee influx

5th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libya's neighbours Algeria and Tunisia on Saturday readied themselves for a new tide of refugees while France sent a warship to repatriate Egyptian refugees fleeing the unrest.

In Algeria authorities said they were strengthening their reception capacity for refugees from Libya with a new facility at Ifri, about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) southeast of Algiers.

It will have 10 tents each capable of sleeping 16 people and will reinforce the small campsites already in existence at the border posts of Tinalkoum, Tarat and Debdeb.

These have had 400 tents added and been assigned eight civil defence doctors, according to the organisation's director Mustapha Lahbiri, quoted by the Algerian APS news agency.

On the other side of the country Tunisia was waiting for a new influx of thousands of refugees, after only 3,000 arrived on Friday, according to the regional Tunisian Red Crescent organiser.

"We are expecting that the normal flow of around 10,000 new arrivals a day will resume," Monji Slim said.

"The refugees are waiting on the Libyan side in nearby towns, they know that the border is jammed, they are waiting for evacuations to proceed to cross," he said, adding that "most Egyptians have been evacuated."

At midday on Saturday groups of dozens of refugees -- Bangladeshis, Somalis, Ghanaians and Vietnamese -- were crossing the border on foot.

The French helicopter carrier Mistral left the southern port of Toulon Saturday bound for southern Tunisia from where it will help evacuate Egyptian refugees from Libya.

Accompanied by a frigate it is due to repatriate at least 900 Egyptians from the Tunisian port of Sarzis. The ship is due to arrive Monday and reach the Egyptian port of Alexandria after three days at sea.

© 2011 AFP

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