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IOM appeals for funds to sustain critical assistance to migrants caught up in prolonged Libyan crisis

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IOM is today urgently appealing to the international community to continue to help tens of thousands of migrants who have either fled violence in Libya or been left stranded inside the country in a desperate situation.

The agency, which has appealed for a total of US$150.2 million, has received nearly US$75.5 million to date.

Most of the additional money will be used to help evacuate migrants who have managed to reach neighbouring countries to return home.

IOM has helped nearly 136,000 migrants from 45 countries to return to their home countries in an operation supported by governments and UNHCR since 28 February.

In the three months since the crisis began, more than 805,000 people have crossed into Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Chad and Algeria or have arrived in Italy, Malta and Sudan.

Although fewer migrants are now crossing into Tunisia and Egypt on a daily basis, thousands of migrants remain stranded at Libyan borders, waiting for evacuation.

"Funds will also continue to be needed to help rescue migrants unable to flee the violence inside Libya," according to IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies Mohammed Abdiker.

IOM has already rescued nearly 6,300 migrants and wounded Libyans by sea from the port city of Misrata and more than 500 migrants from Benghazi to Alexandria in the early stages of the crisis.

Over 20,000 migrants have also been evacuated by IOM by road from the eastern city of Benghazi to the Egyptian border at Sallum and from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to Ras Adjir on the Tunisian border.

While more migrants are expected to escape, especially into Chad, Niger and Tunisia in the coming weeks and months, tens of thousands of others remain stranded in Libyan cities including Gatroun, Sebha, Tripoli and Misrata.

Of particular concern are a group of between 20,000 - 30,000 Chadians, reported to be mainly women and children, in a dire situation without food, water, shelter and health care in Gatroun. IOM is continuing efforts to access this group situated about 1,000kms from the Libyan-Chad border.

"The distance to their location, along with the remoteness of places like Faya and Kalait in Chad and Dirkou in Niger, where many thousands of migrants are arriving once they have safely crossed a border, mean any operation to help them is a logistical challenge requiring significant financial support," says Mohammed Abdiker.

"As the crisis drags on and the plight of migrants inside Libya worsens without adequate access to basic needs such as food, water and shelter, it is imperative that we get help to them with utmost speed," he adds.

The IOM appeal also covers other humanitarian activities in response to the crisis. This includes vital psycho-social assistance for migrants, many of whom have suffered violence in their flight, who have been in fear for their lives or who have witnessed others being killed; travel health assistance for evacuees, humanitarian assistance to migrants stranded at Libya's border with its neighbours, as well as the stabilization of local communities in border areas where migrants are arriving.

For further information, please contact Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/+ 41 79 217 3374 email: jpandya@iom.int or Jumbe Omari Jumbe, Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+41 79 812 7734 Email: jjumbe@iom.int