In an Aug. 19 briefing in Geneva, Ms. Pandya said IOM would begin an
evacuation of the foreigners in Tripoli over the next few days. She said
Tripoli has been under siege by the rebel advance from the west and south.
Relief workers said Libya contains up to 2.5 million foreigners, of
which 600,000 fled during the civil war in the North African state. They
said at least 100,000 remain in Tripoli, many of whom were believed to be
for the Gadhafi regime.
"A rapid response on this is critical to ensuring that in the small
window of opportunity we have to get people out of Tripoli, we are not
constrained by funding issues," IOM regional director Pasquale Lupoli said.
IOM said it has evacuated 8,300 foreigners as well as injured Libyans
from the rebel-held port of Misrata. The organization chartered a second
ship, which left Misrata on Aug. 19.
A day later, Libyan rebels captured the coastal city of Zawiya, located
50 kilometers west of Tripoli and which contains the nation's largest oil
refinery. At the same time, NATO reported the sinking of a boat that was
transporting Gadhafi troops from Zawiya.
"IOM is working on evacuating growing numbers of migrants in the Libyan
capital who are trapped because of the fighting on the western front, who
are increasingly vulnerable and now want to leave," Ms. Pandya said. We have
to address the highly complex logistical, political and security challenges.
It is clear that this is going to be a difficult as well as a special