Libya: the hell suffered by foreigners fleeing violence

Thousands head to borders to return home

18 March, 13:23

    Fighters prepare attacks on IS near Sirte Fighters prepare attacks on IS near Sirte

    (by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) - ROME - Each war leads to tragedy and the conflict in Libya, where everyone is trying to have their say, is no exception.

    As usual, civilians are paying the highest price. And Libyan civilians aren't the only reluctant parties involved, foreign expats who have been residing in the country for years - ever since Gaddafi ''imported'' them in large numbers as employees in many sectors, from construction and infrastructural work to qualified professions, like doctors and engineers - are also involved.

    Now, with fighting everywhere between militias, jihadists and armies that are more or less official, foreigners seeking to reach the country's borders to flee find a path as dangerous as the areas of conflict. This adds to the ongoing tragedy and some foreigners are in even greater danger as they have no official document enabling them to get out of Libya.

    Those fleeing are at the mercy of anyone, starting with gangs of militiamen who, Kalashnikov in hand, set up checkpoints along the roads leading to the border, to rob as many as they can.

    Moroccans, who have been working for years as house help or chefs in the homes of officials with the Gaddafi regime, are now trying to go back home with no document as their ID papers were seized when they were employed as precaution. But there are thousands of kilometers and borders that are difficult to cross between Morocco and Libya (Tunisia and Algeria), especially if travelers have no documents and with harsher controls at the border for security reasons, things get difficult. Up until May 5 last year - according to Map - Moroccans who fled Libya through the Ras JEdir Tunisian border post were 5,700, but it is still unclear how many are still trapped in Libya.

    And there is also the problem of offspring of Moroccan women married to Libyan nationals who were not given the authorization to expatriate. Egypt organized operations to airlift nationals from Tunisia once it took an active role in Libya, bringing thousands back home through Djerba-Zarzis.

    The passage should be easier for Tunisians given their country shares a border with Libya but tensions between Libyan smugglers and Tunisian security forces has often led to violence. (ANSAmed).

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