2,500 need evacuation daily from Libya borders: UNHCR

Up to 2,500 people will need to be evacuated daily from Libyan borders with Tunisia and Egypt for the forseeable future in one of the biggest humanitarian evacuations in history, agencies said on Friday.

Updated: Mar 18, 2011, 21:19 PM IST

Geneva: Up to 2,500 people will need to
be evacuated daily from Libyan borders with Tunisia and Egypt
for the forseeable future in one of the biggest humanitarian
evacuations in history, agencies said on Friday.

The rate of people fleeing Libya would also be
affected by a UN Security Council decision clearing the way
for air strikes but it was not clear how much, the UN refugee
agency and International Organisation for Migration said.

"With the installation of a no-fly zone, we are not
clear on what will be the outcome in terms of outflows," IOM
emergency and post-crisis division chief Fernando Calado said.

"However, we see that there will be repercussions on
migrants," he said.

More than one million migrant workers remain in Libya,
including many from sub-Saharan Africa. "The potential case
load is important," said Calado.

About 300,000 people have fled Libya since clashes
broke out between rebels and pro-regime forces mid-February.

"People keep arriving at the border. There are
different flows according to different circumstances in
Libya," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman
Melissa Fleming.

"But we`re estimating that there`ll be at least 1,500
to 2,500 people every day in need of evacuation for the time
to come," she said.

"This is one of the biggest humanitarian evacuations
in history," said William Lacy Swing, who heads the IOM, an
inter-governmental organisation.

While those who fled initially were mostly migrant
workers, UNHCR noted that there had recently been an increase
in the number of Libyans fleeing into Egypt to escape
violence.

About 1,490 Libyans crossed the border on Wednesday.
"The majority of those interviewed at the Egypt border
said that they left because of fear of being caught up in
fighting. Many mentioned the threats made by the government in
recent days to bombard Benghazi," said Fleming.

The UNHCR strategy in dealing with the repercussions
of the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya was to prepare for
the worst-case scenario, the agency`s crisis operations
coordinator Andrew Harper said.

PTI