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Libya: over 600 civilians evacuated from conflict-torn Misrata

18-04-2011 News Release 11/93

Benghazi/Geneva (ICRC) – A total of 618 foreign nationals were evacuated today by sea from the city of Misrata, in western Libya, by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with support from the Libyan Red Crescent.

"These people had been stranded in dire conditions for several weeks, without proper shelter or sanitation. They had to cope with poor hygiene and were exposed to danger owing to the fighting in the city," explained Javier Cepero García, an ICRC delegate who is leading the evacuation mission. The ICRC decided to help evacuate the foreign nationals after visiting Misrata for the first time last week.

"The evacuation operation carried out today was challenging because of the difficult security conditions in the port area," said Mr Cepero.

An ICRC-chartered vessel sailed from Malta to pick up the civilians in Misrata and take them to Egypt via Tobruk, in eastern Libya. The operation is being coordinated with the International Organization for Migration, which will organize the transfer of the evacuees to their respective countries. Most of those evacuated are Sudanese, Chadian, Egyptian and Moroccan nationals. Women and children are among those who boarded the ICRC ship.

"The ICRC is concerned about the situation of thousands of people in Misrata," said Mr Cepero. "We have decided to send in another ship with medical supplies, hygiene kits, food items and 8,000 litres of drinking water that should arrive in Misrata on Wednesday, 20 April." ICRC and Libyan Red Crescent personnel will be on board the ship to deliver medical supplies to Al Hikma hospital and the Libyan Red Crescent hospital, visit detainees and assess water supply systems and weapon contamination in the area.

For further information, please contact:
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Benghazi, tel: +870 772 390 124
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50