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Ghanaians in Misrata rescued by IOM

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Ghanaian migrants formed the majority of the many migrants rescued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in tension-zone Misrata in the early hours of Monday, April 18, according to IOM press briefing notes.

The IOM rescue mission evacuated closely 1,000 foreign workers and wounded Libyans from Misrata with a chartered boat. “The Ionian Spirit teamed out of Misrata carrying 971 people, most of them weak and dehydrated migrants mainly from Ghana, the Philippines and Ukraine, heading for the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya”, according to a Reuters report.

The IOM reports that 650 of the rescued migrants are Ghanaians. It also says there are 100 Libyans among those rescued, 23 of whom are war-wounded, including a child shot in the face and an amputee.

The Voice of America (VOA) news quotes the IOM spokeswoman, Jemini Pandya as saying “the situation is deteriorating hour by hour, with shelling going on almost continuously”. She says the rescue mission was carried out under extremely risky circumstances.

“We wanted to be able to take more people out but it was not possible,” said Jeremy Haslam, who led the IOM rescue operations on the boat.

Pandya, as reported by VOA, says it is becoming increasingly difficult to carry out further rescue missions. She says IOM is very worried about the 4,000 migrants who are stuck at Misrata’s port. She says time is running out for them.

The first evacuation mission Friday, April 15 had the IOM-chartered boat that successfully rescued nearly 1,200 migrants from Misrata to Benghazi from where virtually all of them were later taken by road to Salum for further assistance, according to the IOM.

Misrata, the stronghold of the rebels, has been under siege by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi for almost two months.

The popular political revolt in the oil-rich state compelled the government of Ghana to constitute the Evaluation Liaison Post at Salum, a border post on the Egypt-Libya border, to save Ghanaians at risk. Their work has, however, been suspended following the no-fly zone imposed on Libya by the UN and the intensity of the crisis.

So far 16,822 Ghanaians have been rescued in excess of the anticipated 10,000 by the government.

The first batch of 55 Ghanaians arrived in Accra on Saturday, February 26, 2011.
By Stephen Yeboah

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