IOM secures flights for 220 Ghanaians fleeing Libya crisis

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has secured seats for 220 Ghanaians fleeing the political crisis in Libya and they would fly home in two batches on Egypt Air from Cairo on Tuesday and Friday.

The Evacuation Liaison Team in the Egyptian border town of Salloum is therefore moving 110 of them to Cairo Airport on Monday while the second batch would be moved on Wednesday.

The Ghana Embassy is also working to fly home 140 evacuees on Thursday.

The leader of the Task Force, Mr Clarence Hugh-Tamakloe, told the Ghana News Agency that priority had been given to women, children, the aged and the sick among the hundreds of Ghanaians who were at Sallloum.

The majority of the Ghanaians are artisans and construction workers, although there are also a number of women and children.

About 550 travel documents had been processed for them last weekend, but the Egyptian authorities would not allow them to move until the Cairo Airport has space for them.

The medical team has identified hypertension as one of the most worrying illnesses among the evacuees.

It has also warned that severe cold was affecting the evacuees and they could succumb to pneumonia unless they were evacuated from Salloum as soon as possible.

The Egyptian authorities are not allowing anybody to erect tents at Salloum, so the evacuees are exposed to the weather, especially the bitter cold nights.

Mr Hugh-Tamakloe said the medical officials attached to the Team had also been treating the evacuees of diarrhoea, bilharzia, bodily pains, hypertension and urinary tract infection.

Ghana’s ambassador to Egypt, Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, has once again appealed to the evacuees to exercise restraint while steps are taken to fly them home.

He said the Embassy was also working on a flight to fly 140 evacuees home on Thursday.

Alhaji Sulemana said the availability of charter and commercial flights remained a major problem hindering the evacuation exercise.

Restless evacuees on Saturday attacked the Evacuation Task Force and vandalised their equipment at Sallloum but calm was restored later.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has joined the IOM in distributing food and blankets to the evacuees.

An official of Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organisation, Mr Peter Bouckaert, told GNA that there were about 600 Ghanaians among thousands of evacuees in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, waiting to be evacuated.

He said the IOM was organising a ship to send them to the Egyptian city of Alexandria to be flown home.

Mr Bouckaert also said he had secured the release of six Ghanaians who had been detained in the rebel controlled city of Benghazi for allegedly aiding the beleaguered Libyan leader, Mouammar Khadafi.

Hundreds of Ghanaians are still at Salloum and more are expected, although the flow slowed down at the weekend.

Mr Hugh-Tamakloe told the GNA on Saturday that Government was arranging for the use of the Egyptian City of Alexandria as another airport in addition to Cairo, which was becoming choked as thousands of nationals from other countries scrambled for flights.

He said the government had also asked the Ghana High Commission in London to transfer money to the Cairo Mission to enable it to charter planes and accelerate the process of evacuation.

The government on Tuesday announced the establishment of an Evacuation Liaison Post at Salloum to coordinate the evacuation of Ghanaian citizens from Libya.

The six-member team include medical personnel from the 37 Military Hospital, personnel from the National Security and a journalist from the Ghana News Agency.

The team is to augment an advance party from the Ghana Embassy in Cairo already at the border.

Government says it is making similar efforts at the Tunisia-Libya border while existing arrangements to airlift Ghanaians in Tripoli and other cities in Libya continued.

Source: GNA

1 Comment
  1. mariama adams says

    I think it is about time the government evacuated the guys currently at salloum boarder. The guys overthere are sleeping in an open space and among them are women and children. no food has been given to them since they arrived and it has been excruciatingly cold. As the above piece saids priority should be given to women, children and the vulnerable. The evacuees need protection from the weather as well as Gadhafi

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