CAIRO — In areas where forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has been forced out, many angry mobs are targeting black Africans after reports that the government was using “African mercenaries” to repress the revolt was transmitted by Western media.
For long, Libya has been a gateway for young Africans seeking a better life in Europe and many of them have been stranded in the North African nation. Refugee and migrant workers from Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Senegal, Chad, Nigeria and other sub-Sahara countries have came under attack according to human right groups.
United Nation refugee advocate agencies believe there are more than 8,000 registered refugees in Libya and a further 3,000 asylum-seekers with cases still pending.
The UN refugee agency said in Geneva on Tuesday it has become “increasingly concerned” about the dangers for civilians inadvertently caught up in the mounting violence in Libya, especially asylum-seekers and refugees with African origins.
Unconfirmed reports of Libyan government hiring “black African mercenaries” in Tripoli and Benghazi has fueled the anger.
The Libyan public has accused the government of unprecedented use of armed forces and foreign “killers” against its own citizens. Due to absence of independent reporters and international observers make it difficult to verify these claims but according to Human Rights Watch more than 300 people are killed.
Melissa Fleming, UNHCR’s chief spokesperson, told reporters in Geneva that they have no direct contacts with refugees in Libya but they were monitoring the situation through third-party sources.
“We have no access at this time to the refugee community. Over the past months we have been trying to regularize our presence in Libya, and this has constrained our work,” Ms. Fleming said.
She confirmed that Libyan protesters were now targeting black refugees. “One journalist passed information to us from Somalis in Tripoli who said they were being hunted on suspicion of being mercenaries,” she said. “He says they feel trapped and frightened to go out, even though there is little or no food at home.”
The UN refugee agency Ms. Fleming urged neighboring countries, including those in Europe to keep their borders open as it braced itself for a flow of refugees fleeing the conflict and angry mobs.
“We are referring to all countries: we’re saying please no push backs at this stage, this is a time to show your humanitarian spirit and generosity towards people who are going through some severe trauma,” she pleaded.
In August 2010, the crumbling regime of Muammar Qaddafi issued a decree ordering all Somali refugees to leave the country or face prison.
According to independent reports reaching Somalilandpress from Egypt at least four Somali refugees were slayed in Libya. The independent source added many Libyan prisons are over crowded with black African refugees and they fear a modern day genocide could unfold without the eyes of the international community.
Many Libyans also accuse the Somali refugees of occupying government funded apartments. Now there is mad land and property grabbing campaign going on in Libya. They are ousting refugees out only to occupy the property. Prior to this revolt many were expelled and forced to live in the Libyan desert without water or shelter. Many refugees from sub-Sahara Africa are been enforced on some of the ugliest of form of human practices by mobs and gangs.
Somalilandpress is working hard to get in touch with Somalis refugees inside Libya. Somali asylum seekers in Libya have always faced difficult circumstance and poor reception from locals.
Somalilandpress | 23 Feb 2011
Somalilandpress received the following statement appealing to all concerned groups from Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali.
Hundreds of Somali refugees are stranded in Libya. There are reports coming from Libya stating that at least 4 Somali refugees were killed and many others wounded. The Libyan public is said to be confusing the Somali refugees with the Qaddafi’s mercenaries. Therefore, the Somali refugees are being attacked without rhyme or reason by rightfully fuming Libyan Mobs.
I have written emails to the CNN and both Aljazeera Arabic & English, highlighting the calamitous risks faced by the Somali refugees in Libya. I encourage all Somalis to do the same and to contact their legislators & administrations in EU, USA, Canada, Australia and as many news outlets as possible. Write and call the CNN and Aljazeera and specially Aljazeera Arabic million times.
PLEASE DO SOMETHING TO SAFE THE LIVES OF OUR FOLLOW BROTHERS AND SISTERS who are stranded helplessly in Libya. Why not contact the good office of the Amir of Qatar, he is currently the most respected and influential Arab leader.
Dr. Yusuf Dirir Ali, MD