Spain to evacuate Bangladeshis from Libya

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Spain is to help airlift some of the thousands of Bangladeshis who are attempting to flee the turmoil in Libya, the government said Thursday.

"We are ready to begin evacuation flights to Bangladesh," said Secretary of State for International Cooperation Soraya Rodríguez.

She said Spain has already offered two flights "but will expand this operation" according to the needs of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Between 13,000 and 15,000 Bangladeshis are estimated to be trapped in Libya or on the Tunisian border amid heavy fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, the UNHCR says.

Tunisian authorities last week starting housing the Bangladeshis in tents in a refugee camp run by the Tunisian military and the United Nations.

Rodriguez said that Indian permission would be needed to fly over that country, "which requires 96 hours notice, which will slow the evacuation."

Spain, in conjunction with the UNHCR, has already airlifted some 3,000 Egyptians to Cairo from the Tunisian town of Djerba, on the border with Libya.

On Wednesday, it repatriated 380 Ghanaians in two flights from Tunisia to Accra.

© 2011 AFP

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