Alert over refugees at Libya-Tunisia border

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Alert over refugees at Libya-Tunisia border

Alert over refugees at Libya-Tunisia border
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Fighting in Libya is forcing more and more people to flee, with refugee agencies now talking about a humanitarian crisis.

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It is estimated up to 75,000 people have fled for neighbouring Tunisia.

Most of them are Egyptian migrants who had been working in Libya. They are angry at their government for what they call its slow response in evacuating them.

They complained that after the revolution in their country they became the target of attacks in Libya, accused of helping to inspire the Libyan demonstrators.

The Tunisian authorities have been praised for their response, described as impressive by the European Commission. But the authorities are struggling with the sudden flow of refugees, and there are calls for more foreign help.

Ouederni Rachid from the Tunisian National Guard told euronews: “The conditions for people here are very hard, in terms of shelter and food. I’m calling on the international community to send boats and planes to evacuate the people here and take them home, in better conditions.”

Some refugees, exhausted by the strain amid the panic to get over the border, are being provided with medical treatment. Tunisian doctor Abdel Jalil told euronews: “The number of refugees is growing all the time. We don’t have exact figures but there are thousands arriving. We’re trying to organise medical help for the sick.”

In order to try to control the flow, passports are taken at the border crossing and handed back on the other side.

Some have been there for several days waiting for transport back to Egypt. Of those lucky enough to make it to the Zarzis port in Tunis, many are still waiting for a ship to take them home. Some men have been sleeping at the port building for nearly a week.

Early on Tuesday morning a ship finally arrived, and took 750 workers back to Egypt. Three more were expected on Wednesday.