Nearly 100,000 have fled Libya in past week: UN

Sunday, February 27, 2011

GENEVA - Nearly 100,000 people have fled the unrest in Libya over the last week, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR.

Most of the refugees have fled into neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, which have come through popular uprisings of their own in the past months and are coping with uneasy government transitions.

“We are committed to assisting Tunisia and Egypt in helping each and every person fleeing Libya,” Antnio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement from Geneva Sunday. “We call upon the international community to respond quickly and generously to enable these governments to cope with this humanitarian emergency.”

Tunisia’s government Saturday said 40,000 people had fled across the border since Feb 20. The UNHCR estimated another 10,000 were expected to come across overnight to Sunday. Of the 50,000, about 18,000 were Tunisians, 15,000 were Egyptians, 2,500 Libyans and about 2,000 Chinese.

Another 55,000 have fled into Egypt, including 46,000 Egyptians, 2,100 Libyans and 6,900 from other countries, mainly Asian.

Staff of UNHCR that crossed the border into Libya from Egypt had made contact with police and military personnel that had defected from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has refused to step down and engaged in a brutal crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

The UNHCR was working with local tribes and authorities running eastern Libya, which is in control of the opposition, but warned that the region was in need of immediate humanitarian help. The people lacked food and medical supplies.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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