Refugees Flock to Libyan-Tunisian Border

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tunisians working and living in Libya arrive on February 22, 2011 at the Ras Jdir border post (in the background), near the Tunisian city of Ben Guerdane after they fled Libya. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty)

It has been called a modern day exodus: Over 100,000 people have fled Libya so far in the wake of the protests and violent retaliation from Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The majority of the Libyan population lives in Tripoli, which is in the western part of the country. Tens of thousands have now fled to the country's nearest border, to Tunisia, in just the past few days. How will Tunisia — in upheval itself over recent revolution — deal with the influx?

In addition to feeding and housing emigrants in tents and helping Tunisia workers, they also have to coordinate with other countries like Egypt to get their own nationals back home. The UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, and other aid groups have begun setting up camps to house the refugees until their evacuations can be arrange. But the 40,000 people gathered there could be just the tip of the iceberg: The International Organisation for Migration estimates that over 1.5 million migrants live and work in Libya.

Joining The Takeaway from the Tunisia-Libyan border is Joe Lowry, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who says that emigrants were packed like sardines into the border area, waiting to get into Tunisia.

We also speak with Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch.


Joe Lowry and Sarah Leah Whitson

Produced by:

Kateri A. Jochum

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