The IOM-chartered ship- the Red Star One- sailed this morning into Benghazi with another group of 995 stranded migrant workers and wounded civilians evacuated from the war-torn Libyan city of Misrata.
The group, which boarded the IOM ship on Saturday morning, includes 842 Niger nationals, nine other nationalities and 17 civilian casualties.
On board the Red Star One, the wounded were taken care of by a specialised medical team of eleven, including personnel from the International Medical Corps.
This fourth rotation brings to 4,100 the number of people evacuated by IOM from Misrata since the beginning of the humanitarian evacuation programme on 14 April.
Evacuees from Misrata have included 21 nationalities including Egyptians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Dutch, Eritreans, Iraqis, Filipinos, Ghanaians, Nigerians, nationals from Niger, Chadians, Algerians, Sudanese, Tunisians and Ukrainians, as well as wounded Libyans.
The migrants had been squatting in the open or in containers in the port area, without proper access to food, clean water or medical care. Many are weak and traumatised after many weeks of fighting in Misrata
Although the number of migrants in and around the harbour in Misrata is now believed to be around 1,500, there are reports of more people moving from suburbs in the west of the city towards the port area.
"We expect that many migrants who were hiding in sections of the city formally under the control of Gaddafi's forces will make the most of a temporary lull in the fighting to reach the harbour area in the hope of being evacuated," says IOM's Representative for the Middle East, Pasquale Lupoli.
IOM therefore plans to organise two more rotations between Benghazi and Misrata.
A fifth rotation is planned for later today with some 200 tons of food and medical supplies ready in Benghazi to be boarded on the Red Star One.
"Funding received to date means we can continue the life saving evacuation of desperate stranded migrant workers and wounded civilians out of Misrata," says Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations.
Australia today joined the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civilian Protection Office (ECHO), Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), Germany and Ireland in funding IOM's humanitarian evacuation programme out of Misrata.
The AUD 2.5 million is for the sea evacuation of a further 2,000 people from Misrata and for IOM's operations in response to the Libya crisis.
"We are extremely grateful to receive funding for this life saving operation, which constitutes the only life-line available to those stranded in Misrata," says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. "However, more funding is urgently needed as IOM's humanitarian evacuation programme has almost dried up."
As more evacuees arrive in Benghazi from Misrata, IOM faces increased logistical challenges in providing adequate shelter, food and water in Benghazi prior to moving them by road to the Egyptian border at Sallum and then onto their final countries of destination on commercial and charter flights.
Some 564,000 migrants have fled Libya since the beginning of the crisis, including some 225,000 to Egypt, 265,000 to Tunisia, 50,000 to Niger, 14,000 to Algeria and more than 10,000 to Chad, where IOM continues to face many challenges in providing assistance to Chadian returnees who have arrived in the northern town of Faya-Largeau.
IOM this week plans to organise 10 charter flights from Faya- Largeau to the capital N'Djamena to assist weak and vulnerable returnees who cannot be transported by road.
IOM appealed for US$160 million dollars for its response to the Libyan crisis with much of the funding to provide evacuation assistance from both inside and outside Libya.
The Organization has to date received US$65 million, which has been spent on operations that have helped more than 117,000 migrants return to their home countries and evacuate many more from inside Libya to Egypt and Tunisia.
For more information, please call Jean-Philippe Chauzy at IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 79 285 43 66, Email: email@example.com