Evacuation efforts in Libya have been stepped up in the last week, with Human Rights Watch documenting the evacuation of 13,500 nationals from China, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Vietnam with another 40,000 trapped on the border with Tunisia.
Ayman Gharaibeh, working for UNHCR at the bordertown of Ras Adjir said:
“We can see acres of people waiting to cross the border. Many have been waiting for three to four days in the freezing cold, with no shelter or food. Usually the first three days of the crisis are the worst. This seems to be getting worse by the day.”
One million foreign nationals work in Libya and around 140,000 have successfully exited the country over land borders with Tunisia and Egypt, according to UNHCR and IOM. China has evacuated nearly 30,000 Chinese, and the European Union has evacuated an additional 10,000 Europeans.
US company AECOM Technology Corporation, the program manager for the Libya Housing and Infrastructure Board’s program to modernize the country’s infrastructure, has announced that it completed the safe withdrawal of its expatriate employees and their families from Libya.
John M. Dionisio, AECOM president and chief executive officer said:
“The safety and security of our staff is paramount to AECOM, and we are grateful for the safe withdrawal of our expatriate personnel.”
Human Rights Watch is calling for the international community to urgently assist Sub-Saharan workers who are facing persecution after it was revealed that Colonel Gadaffi is using black African mercenaries to bolster his security forces and launch attacks on civilians.
On 1st March 2011, the UN General Assembly suspended Libya from the United Nations Human Rights Council for “gross and systematic” human rights violations because of President Gadaffi’s violent repression of peaceful protesters.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said:
“Credible and consistent reports include allegations of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture.
“In these difficult and unpredictable circumstances, it is critical that the international community remain united.
“Our collective challenge will be to provide real protection for the people of Libya – first, to halt the violence and, second, to deal with the growing humanitarian emergency. The arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze imposed by Security Council resolution 1970 [on Saturday] must be swiftly and effectively enforced. We need concrete action on the ground to provide humanitarian and medical assistance. Time is of the essence. Thousands of lives are at risk.”
The UN is sending assessment teams to judge the humanitarian situation while the Secretary General co-ordinates a response from the Arab League, African Union, Organisation of the Islamic Conference and UN.