Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fund crisis will not deter evacuation of migrants fleeing Libya

Bangladesh national at capital Dhaka airport returns from strife-torn Libya - IOM Photo
SALEEM SAMAD

THE REFUGEES fleeing the strife-torn Libya fear that the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) effort to repatriate them would be hampered for impending fund crisis.

Undaunted IOM and UN refugee agency have made a fresh appeal in Geneva on Friday, urging further financial and logistic support by countries.

IOM and UN refugee agency assures that the operation will not stop. Although global funding commitments fall far short of required funds to provide camp support and air evacuation of the third country nationals who fled Libya.

However, there maybe a slowdown in the number of returnee’s everyday if the   required funding is not available in the next few days, IOM press release on Friday stated.

Bangladesh heaves a sigh of relief after overwhelming majority of stranded migrants who fled troubled Libya have safely returned home in cooperation with two international organizations.

Additional charter flights have been pressed into services to repatriated Bangladeshi migrants languishing in Tunisia and Egypt borders.

Majority of the Bangladeshis at different borders are back home, IOM official Asif Munier told AHN.

 Special flights managed to bring back about 23 thousand during March 1-18, while about four thousand came back with support from their employers or with individual efforts, Munier said.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith last week said that the World Bank has offered Bangladesh US $30 million International Development Agency (IDA) credit to help repatriation of the Bangladesh nationals fleeing Libya.

World Bank’s country director in Bangladesh Ellen Goldstein hope that the fund offered to Bangladesh will be sufficient to make the financing gap to bring back 30,000 Bangladeshis in Libya.

An estimated 2,000 Bangladeshis are still at the Tunisian border, while another about 4,000 are at different other borders. Hopefully by this weekend most of the Bangladeshis at the Egyptian border will be evacuated. [END]

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow  is an investigating journalist on conflict and good governance in Bangladesh. He has recently returned from exile in Canada after six years.