Libya

Life saving evacuations from besieged city of Misrata continue as fighting intensifies

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A third IOM-chartered ship transporting more than 1,000 migrant evacuees from the besieged city of Misrata is expected to dock later today in the Eastern city of Benghazi.

The ship, the Ionian Spirit, left Misrata last night with 586 Nigeriens, 239 Libyans, 92 Nigerians, 26 Bangladeshis, 24 Filipinos, and 16 Pakistanis, the other evacuees hailing from Egypt, Chad, Algeria and Ukraine.

Among the rescued are 55 Libyans and one Ukrainian civilian war wounded, who received onboard medical assistance from International Medical Corps staff. All will be transferred to appropriate medical facilities upon arrival in Benghazi.

The IOM-charted ship is also transporting the bodies of award-winning photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, who were killed yesterday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Misrata. The body of a Ukrainian doctor is also being repatriated to Benghazi.

As fighting in Misrata intensifies, more and more civilians are desperately trying to leave the city. Among the Libyans onboard the Ionian Spirit are some 100 Libyans who were rescued from an overloaded tugboat that was trying to make its way out of the harbour.

In Benghazi, IOM is preparing to provide assistance to a group of some 900 migrants who were yesterday evacuated from Misrata onboard a Turkish ship. The migrants from Niger, Egypt, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sudan were evacuated from the harbour area, which remains under constant threat of mortar and sniper fire.

A fourth rotation is currently planned. The IOM-chartered Red Star One is currently being loaded in Benghazi with some 500 tons of food and medical supplies for the besieged city.

To date, IOM has evacuated more than 3,100 people from Misrata, with funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO), from Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) and from the German Government.

However, additional funding will be needed as increasing numbers of desperate stranded migrants and third country nationals are expected to make their way the harbour area in Misrata in the hope of being evacuated.

It would also allow IOM to increase its onward transportation capacity from the Salum border area, which is overcrowded with some 5,000 evacuees currently squatting in the inhospitable no man's land.

For further information, please contact Jean Philippe Chauzy, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/+ 41 79 285 4366 Email: pchauzy@iom.int or Jumbe Omari Jumbe, Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+41 79 812 7734 Email: jjumbe@iom.int

ISDN Line : 41 22 788 38 61

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