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Libya: The Weak Pay Highest Price In Tripoli And Bengasi


“Fifty-four Eritrean migrants had really hoped that the Italian government would send a plane to take them to Italy, but the news circulated and another 500 arrived. At that point there was nothing to do but give them something for their trip back home”, said to MISNA from Tripoli Father Daniel Farrugia, a Maltese, vicar general of the diocese and parish priest of the St. Francis of Assisi Church, indicating one of the ‘collateral’ effects of the Libyan crisis and confrontation between the protesters and government of Muammar Qadhafi.

“I think that in the city there are at least 1,500 Eritreans, many of whom were rejected in the Mediterranean en route to Italy and ended up in Libya”, added Fr. Farrugia, specifying that they are “people with nothing, struggling to survive, depending solely on a strong solidarity within the community”.


From Dahra, a neighbourhood of Tripoli around 20 minutes from the Green Square – where Qadhafi held his last speech inciting his supporters to resist – Fr. Farrugia spoke of a city trying to return to normalcy: “I took a ride around this morning and the banks are filled with people wanting to deposit the 500 dinars given by the government, stores are open and also offices. Until 2:00p.m, then the shutters close and the city falls in a strange silence and calm. In the past two days not even interrupted by gunfire that previously could be heard”.

The same apparent calm was described by MISNA sources contacted in Bengasi, which fell under the control of the so-called pro-democracy front. Also there everyone is waiting to see what unfolds, but it is the weak paying the highest prices.

“Here, especially in the desert there are several oil and construction companies, but while the directors and managers in the first days managed to leave the country without any problems, thousands of foreign workers are trapped waiting for a means to return home”, said a MISNA sources who requested anonymity. They are Egyptians, Tunisians, Asians, often with little money and insufficient basic necessities. In the race to safety, they were left last by those who should have guaranteed their safety”, concluded the source.

In a statement, the Apostolic Nunciature stressed that nuns and priests are continuing their service for the population in both Tripoli and Bengasi. “In these days our religious are receiving insistent requests for help from people who are not on lists of governments for evacuation from Libya. In particular, in Tripoli there is a very serious situation concerning thousands of Eritreans, who have no points of reference and currently appear the most abandoned”.

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MISNA, or the Missionary International Service News Agency, provides daily news ‘from, about and for’ the 'world’s Souths', not just in the geographical sense, since December 1997.

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