Italy to send ships, planes to ease refugee crisis in LibyaMarch 4th, 2011 - 11:36 am ICT by IANS
Rome, March 4 (IANS/AKI) Italy will send ships and planes to help rescue thousands of people caught between the borders of Tunisia and Libya, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said in Rome.
Frattini also said his country will provide medical and food assistance to people in Benghazi, a coastal city in eastern Libya captured by forces opposed to Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
“We have information that thousands have been injured (in the fighting) some of them seriously,” Frattini told reporters during a press conference.
The UN Refugee Organisation (UNHRC) Tuesday warned of a looming refugee crisis in North Africa, where over 140,000 people have fled the unrest in Libya and crossed into Egypt and Tunisia.
More than 6,000 people have been detained in southern Italy following the fall of Tunisia’s authoritarian government in January. Most of the migrants were reported to be Tunisian men.
Italy has launched an appeal for help from the European Union for what it fears will be an inundation of illegal migrants leaving North African shores amid political turmoil.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government says the situation in Libya threatens to unleash further waves of immigrants after it put on hold a security pact with Libya to jointly patrol the Mediterranean for boats transporting migrants.
Italy is Libya’s biggest trading partner. The two countries in 2009 announced a deal that would grant Italian businesses favourable tax and export privileges.
Amid an international outcry over Gaddafi’s violent crackdown on opponents, Italy suspended a so-called friendship agreement between the two nations that provides $5 billion over 20 years as compensation for Italy’s 1911-43 rule and to fund the building of a motorway along the Libyan coast.
Italy will launch its mission to Tunisia within the next two days by sending ships loaded with supplies to establish a refugee camp in Ras Ejder along the Tunisian coast and close to Libya, Frattini said.
The facility will be run along with the UN Refugee Organisation. So far, Italy has earmarked a tourist ferry and $5 million for the plan.
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- Gaddafi's $25 mn Italian hotel complex seized - May 17, 2012
- Italy not to bomb Libya, says Berlusconi - Apr 16, 2011
- Boat with Egyptian migrants held in Italy - Jun 13, 2012
- Gaddafi's 'political exit' being planned: Italy - May 16, 2011
- 500,000 Libyans fed by UN food organisation - Jul 06, 2011
- 6,000 killed in Libyan unrest - Mar 03, 2011
- Italy may freeze 3.6 bn euros of Libyan assets - Mar 02, 2011
- Hundreds of Libyan refugees feared dead after ship sinks off Libya - May 10, 2011
- Russia sends aid for Libyan refugees - Mar 06, 2011
- Over 1,400 die trying to reach Italian shores - May 26, 2011
- 5,000 Tunisian immigrants arrive in Italy - Feb 15, 2011
- I feel betrayed by Europe, especially Berlusconi: Gaddafi - Mar 16, 2011
Tags: eastern libya, export privileges, franco frattini, friendship agreement, illegal migrants, international outcry, italian businesses, libyan coast, muammar gaddafi, political turmoil, prime minister silvio berlusconi, refugee camp, refugee crisis, rescue thousands, rome march, security pact, silvio berlusconi, southern italy, tunisian coast, violent crackdown