Britain to get 5,000 migrant workers out of Misrata

18th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain will help rescue 5,000 stranded migrant workers in besieged Misrata while Moamer Kadhafi's regime has agreed to let a UN mission inspect the Libyan city, officials said Monday.

Opposition-held Misrata, in western Libya, has been under almost daily attack for six weeks and aid groups and medical workers in the city say hundreds have died.

Britain will work through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to charter a ship to get the Egyptian and Bangladeshi workers out of the city, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said in New York.

Agencies like the IOM have scrambled to organize ships to get thousands of people out of the stricken city.

Mitchell discussed the new plan and other humanitarian help in Libya with UN agency chiefs in New York, British mission spokesman Daniel Shepherd said.

"The position in Misrata, which has sharply deteriorated in the last few days, means that there are 5,000 poor migrant workers caught out on the quayside with munitions exploding some 300 yards (meters) from where they are," Mitchell told the BBC.

"Many of them are Egyptians, there's some Bangladeshis as well, and we're going to move all of them out as soon as we can by sea."

Mitchell also announced that Britain would fund aid to other towns in western Libya.

This will be channeled through the International Medical Corps (IMC), a non-government group, which will send in five-person medical teams and provide basic medicines to treat the wounded and sick, said a British statement.

"In conflict-affected areas across Libya, thousands of sick and injured people are in desperate need of medical help. Those who are able to reach hospitals find a shortage of doctors -- most with no training in war surgery -- few nurses, overwhelmed staff, and weak or non-existent post-operative care," Mitchell said.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos secured a deal with the Kadhafi government to get UN access to Misrata. Amos and UN special envoy to Libya Abdul Ilah al-Khatib held talks in Tripoli on Sunday with Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmud, Foreign Minister Abdelati Laabidi and other top regime officials.

The UN team pressed the regime to agree a ceasefire.

The government agreed to let a UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs mission go to Misrata, said UN humanitarian spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker.

"We want to assess the situation and determine the needs with our own eyes," she told AFP.

The government also agreed to allow "safe passage" for international aid workers to get to zones under government control, said deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

"Our understanding is that the government of Libya has agreed to facilitate a humanitarian presence in Tripoli," Haq told a briefing.

"They have agreed to facilitate the provision of equipment for international staff and also to allow entry of international staff.

The Libyan government also "said it would ensure an unimpeded access through the Tunisian border into Libya up to Tripoli and said it would ensure safe passage for humanitarian workers to areas where the government of Libya is in control."

© 2011 AFP

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