- Despite heavy shelling of the port area of the besieged Libyan city of Misrata on Tuesday, about 935 migrants and Libyans have been rescued and are now safely en route to Benghazi.
The shelling of the port area meant the IOM-chartered boat, the Red Star One, was forced to delay docking until Wednesday morning, once the situation was calmer.
Among the 935 evacuees are 848 Nigeriens and small groups of Sudanese, Egyptians and Tunisians as well as 30 Libyan medical cases and 50 accompanying family members.
Also on board are a group of journalists being taken out of Misrata including a French journalist who had been shot in the neck and now in intensive care.
The IOM-chartered boat left Misrata late afternoon and is due to arrive in Benghazi on Thursday morning.
Up to 1,500 migrants are thought to still be in Misrata in need of evacuation. IOM staff on the boat estimate that 500 migrants are still in the port area with port authorities saying that many migrants ran away from the area due to the fighting and are likely to head back to the port shortly.
This fifth mission to Misrata carried 160 tons of food and medical supplies, including two new ambulances to help in the transportation of casualties from hospitals in Misrata to the port for medical evacuation.
A specialized medical team of 11 is on board the Red Star One to take care of the war-wounded, all hospital referrals, including four patients requiring intensive care.
So far, IOM has rescued 5,512 people, the vast majority stranded migrant workers from more than 21 nationalities, including Nigeriens, Bangladeshis, Ghanaians, Nigerians, Egyptians and Tunisians as well as hundreds of Libyans, many of them war-wounded.
From Benghazi, IOM provides the migrants onward land transportation to the Egyptian border at Sallum. Since it began a land evacuation from Benghazi to Sallum on 3 March, IOM has evacuated more than 8,000 migrants from Benghazi to the Egyptian border before taking them to their home countries.
IOM's humanitarian evacuation programme out of Misrata is funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civilian Protection Office (ECHO), Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), Germany, Ireland and Australia.
Nearly 626,000 people have fled Libya and crossed into Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, Chad, and Sudan with some of them putting their lives in great danger to reach the shores of Italy and Malta.
Elsewhere in Libya, IOM continues to assist in the evacuation by road of thousands of stranded Sudanese, Egyptian and Nigerien migrants from the capital Tripoli to the Tunisian border.
IOM has 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. To date, the Organization has received close to US$68 million, which have been spent on operations that have helped more than 117,000 migrants return to their home countries and evacuate many thousands more from inside Libya to Egypt and Tunisia.
For further information, please contact Jean Philippe Chauzy, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/+ 41 79 285 4366 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Jemini Pandya, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/+ 41 79 217 3374 Email: email@example.com or Jumbe Omari Jumbe, Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+41 79 812 7734 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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