Boat to evacuate foreigners has left Tripoli: IOM

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A ship chartered to evacuate foreigners in Tripoli has departed and is expected to arrive in Benghazi Saturday, the International Organsation for Migration (IOM) told AFP Thursday.

"The boat has left," IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya said, adding the ship had taken on between 200 and 250 passengers.

The chartered Turkish ferry had waited offshore for two nights for the security situation to improve as rebels battled Moamer Kadhafi loyalists around the capital.

The ship only has four cabins, so most people will make the journey sitting down, armed with the food packages they were given when boarding.

Most of the passengers are from the Philippines, Egypt, Canada, Algeria and Morocco, Pandya said, adding that more and larger boats are expected to arrive over the weekend.

The vessel will arrive in Benghazi Saturday and the migrants will subsequently be transported to the Egyptian border at Salloum before being helped to return to their home countries, the IOM said.

It said on Tuesday that around 1,700 Filipinos, 2,000 Bangladeshis and 1,500 to 2,000 Egyptians have registered with their embassies to be evacuated from Tripoli.

"Many more, including Sub-Saharan Africans who live on the outskirts of Tripoli, might also require assistance," it added in a statement.

© 2011 AFP

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