U.N. agencies said on Monday they were trying to provide urgent help to large numbers of migrants held and then stranded in the smuggling hub of Sabratha as rival factions battled for control of the city.
At least 4,000 migrants, including pregnant women, newborn babies and unaccompanied children, have been transferred from informal camps and housing to a hanger in the city since the clashes ended on Friday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said some 6,000 had been held at the informal sites.
Hundreds of migrants who had left Sabratha arrived in Zuwara, about 25 km (15 miles) to the west, on foot along the beach, said Sadeeq Al-Jayash, head of Zuwara’s emergency committee.
“They come walking in groups ... for example there were various groups that came on Sunday -- 50, then 100 and 200 at night,” said Jayash. There were about 1,700 migrants currently in Zuwara “in desperate need of help”, he said.
Sabratha has been the most common point of departure for mostly sub-Saharan African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean by boat from Libya.
But the number of crossings dropped sharply in July after an armed group struck a deal with officials from the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli to block departures, under pressure from Italy and other European Union member states.
REUTERS, 10th OCTOBER, 2017