Six hundred and fifty Ghanaian immigrants caught in the cross-fire in Libya’s north-western port city of Misrata have been rescued by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The Ghanaians, who were among a group of 971 migrants stranded at the port for weeks, were rescued by boat amidst worsening conditions as fighting in the city escalates.
Among those rescued were weak and dehydrated migrants from The Philippines and Ukraine who were heading for the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.
The rescue is the second such mission carried out by the IOM, both funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO).
Established in 1951, the IOM is the leading inter-governmental organisation in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental partners.
It also works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, promote international co-operation on migration issues, assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and provide humanitarian assistance for migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
The IOM officials said there were some 100 Libyans among those rescued, 23 of whom were wounded, including a child shot in the face and an amputee.
The Voice of America (VOA) news quoted the IOM Spokeswoman, Jemini Pandya, as saying, “The situation is deteriorating hour by hour, with shelling going on almost continuously.”
She said the rescue mission had been carried out under extremely risky circumstances, adding that the IOM had been very worried about the 4,000 migrants who were stuck at Misrata’s port, for whom, she said, time was running out.
Jeremy Haslam, who led the IOM rescue operations on the boat, said, ‘We wanted to be able to take more people out but it was not possible.’
The first evacuation mission on Friday had the IOM-chartered boat successfully rescuing nearly 1,200 migrants from Misrata to Benghazi, from where virtually all of them were later taken by road to Salum for further assistance, according to the IOM.
Misrata, the stronghold of the rebels, has been under siege by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi for almost two months.
The revolt in the oil-rich state compelled the government of Ghana to set up a seven-member task force to ensure a speedy evacuation of Ghanaians stranded there.
Its work was, however, suspended following the no-fly zone imposed on Libya by the UN and the intensity of the crisis.
So far, 16,822 Ghanaians are said to have been evacuated, in excess of the anticipated 10,000 by the government.
The first batch of 55 Ghanaians arrived in Accra on February 26, 2011.
Source Daily Guide
Category: Ghanaians Abroad