Increased displacement in eastern Libya
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 25 March 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR is hearing consistent reports from new arrivals and a number of partners in eastern Libya of increased internal displacement. International Medical Corps estimates that up to 20,000 people have been taking refuge in the small town of Al Butwen, east of Ajdabiyya for over two weeks, while the Libyan Red Crescent has told us that some 5,000 people are displaced in the coastal town of Derna.
To date UNHCR has sent two convoys with medical supplies to Benghazi through the Egyptian Red Crescent and the Libyan Red Crescent. We have also sent thousands of blankets, sleeping mats and other relief items. Further stores in Egypt with relief items for 40,000-50,000 people are ready to be dispatched if necessary. At this time we do not have access to deliver humanitarian aid into other parts of Libya.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian city of Marsa Matrouh, some 220 kilometres east of the Libyan border is now hosting hundreds if not thousands of Libyans. Of those interviewed by UNHCR, many are families who say that they hope to return to Libya soon. Banners are hanging in the streets with messages of welcome to Libyans.
The numbers of people fleeing Libya have remained steady over the past few days. Tunisia is seeing around 2000 arrivals daily, most from Sudan and Bangladesh. At the Egyptian border, around 1500-2000 individuals, mostly Libyans and Egyptians, are crossing each day, with a growing number of third country nationals from Chad also being noted.
The number of people awaiting evacuation or alternative solutions from transit camps at the Tunisia border with Libya has increased to 8,500. UNHCR and IOM reiterate their appeal to governments to support their humanitarian evacuation programme to help people return to their home countries.
Over 2000 people are now registered with UNHCR in these transit camps, some are refugees formerly registered with UNHCR in Libya. Within this group, UNHCR has witnessed an increase in the number of families arriving recently.
As of 23 March 351,673 people have fled the violence in Libya. This includes over 178,263 to Tunisia (including 19,283 Tunisians, 21,877 Libyans, 137,103 others), 147,293 to Egypt (including 77,237 Egyptians 27,161 Libyans and 42,895 others), 11,949 to Niger (including 11,091 from Niger and 858 others), 9,168 to Algeria (including land, air and sea evacuations), 2,200 to Chad and 2,800 to Sudan.