New York: More than 250,000 people have now fled Libya into neighbouring countries since the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi started in mid-February, the UN said on Thursday.
More than 137,400 have crossed into Tunisia, 107,500 to Egypt, 5,400 to Algeria and 2,200 to Niger, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.
The number of people who have left the country is much higher as many migrant workers have taken special planes and chartered ships that left Libyan airports and ports in the days after Gaddafi launched his clampdown on opposition protests.
Large numbers are building up at transit camps on the borders. At Choucha on the Tunisian border, the World Food Programme and the Red Crescent are providing daily meals for 7,000 people and the figure will double in coming days, the statement said.
At the Saloum border in Egypt, more than 5,600 people have been receiving fortified date bars on a daily basis.
There is "scant" information on the humanitarian fallout in areas of Libya controlled by Gaddafi forces, but OCHA said three quarters of the country remains cut off from humanitarian assistance.
"Medical needs are a major concern particularly as we are receiving reports of hospital closures at a time when people most need medical care. We need nurses, and wounded civilians need to reach these facilities," the statement said.
The UN has made a USD 160 million appeal to help those fleeing and to buy food and medical and other supplies for those stuck in the country.
Libya agreed on Sunday to let a humanitarian assessment team visit Tripoli, according to the UN, but the experts have still not been allowed into Libya.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon secured the regime's accord during telephone talks with Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa.
Ban's special envoy for Libya, former Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Ilah Khatib, and a newly named humanitarian coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, could go to Tripoli as early as this weekend for talks with the regime, officials said.
First Published: Friday, March 11, 2011, 09:22