IOM has this week begun an air evacuation of thousands of migrants who have fled the conflict in Libya and who are now stranded in remote areas in Northern Chad.
More than 1,500 migrants have been flown from the northern Chadian town of Faya to Abéché or the Chadian capital, N'Djamena this week.
Recent arrivals of large numbers of migrants in Faya had led to a bottle-neck of nearly 4,000 stranded migrants in this small desert community in need of urgent assistance. An IOM transit centre in the town has a capacity to accommodate and assist about 900 people although at the very least that capacity needs to be doubled.
Air evacuation priority has been given to sick migrants who are not able to travel by road to ensure timely and appropriate medical care in N'Djamena.
About 350 migrants are currently receiving treatment at Faya district hospital, which normally has an in-patient capacity of 45 patients. With the hospital severely over-crowded, patients are lying under trees or in tents. Many are on bed frames without mattresses reports the IOM team in Faya.
Since the start of the Libyan crisis, more than 23,500 migrants, mainly Chadians, have arrived in the northern Chadian towns of Faya and Kalait after a dangerous and gruelling journey across the Sahara on heavily over-loaded open trucks with minimal food and water for up to 25 days.
IOM staff in Faya report that although many of the migrants are in remarkably good shape considering their ordeal, there are large numbers suffering from severe dehydration, problems related to irregular or no food intake, upper and lower respiratory illnesses due to exposure to dusty and sandy environmental conditions, while others are so physically exhausted that they cannot walk without assistance.
The remoteness of Faya and Kalait is one of the biggest challenges facing IOM in providing assistance to migrants fleeing Libya.
IOM is currently helping a group of 276 migrants whose trailer truck broke down 350 kms north-west of Faya in the mountainous Tibesti region. The group finally arrived in Faya on Thursday, although one of the migrants had died on the journey.
Last week, IOM staff en route to Kalait helped 115 migrants left stranded on the sand dunes for five days when their truck broke down. Without water and with minimal food supplies, they were dependent on their survival in extremely high desert temperatures on whatever the few passers-by could spare them.
All the migrants were taken in trucks to final destinations elsewhere in Chad as part of an IOM road evacuation from Kalait. However, journeys last between three to four days along routes that are primarily sand and very challenging.
So far, IOM has evacuated 9004 migrants by road and air from Faya and Kalait to N'Djamena, Abéché, Bol and Mao in Chad.
Nearly 770,000 migrants and Libyans have fled into Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Tunisia and Sudan or crossed the Mediterranean to reach Italy and Malta since the start of the Libyan crisis in mid-February.
For further information, please contact Jean Philippe Chauzy, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/+ 41 79 285 4366 Email: email@example.com or Jemini Pandya, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/+ 41 79 217 3374 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Jumbe Omari Jumbe, Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+41 79 812 7734 Email: email@example.com