Tunisia: Refugee Crisis at the Libya Border

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

The border between Tunisia and Libya has seen a massive influx of refugees since the uprising in Libya began. The journey to the border is long and tough, and for most it doesn't end there. Huge crowds of thousands have been waiting for days in freezing cold weather to cross in to Tunisia. Up to 75,000 people have fled the violence in Libya to Tunisia, since February 20, and even more people are expected. The situation at the Libya-Tunisia border is at crisis point, says the UNHCR.

The IFRC have posted this video from Ras Jdir on March 1.

Many of the refugees who are trapped at the crossing point of Ras Jdir in Tunisia are Egyptians who lived in Libya. Their compatriots in Egypt have been following the events at the border closely.

Hani Mohammed (@palestinoo7) urges Egyptians to put pressure on the government to bring back home those who are still trapped at the Ras Jedir crossing point:

٧٥ الف مصري يستغيثون في منطقة العبور راس جدير ببنقردان تونس، الرجاءالإسراع في إيصال هذا النداء الى الحكومة المصرية، الوضع بدء يتفاقم هناك وهنالك خوف من وقوع أزمة إنسانية

Thousands of Egyptians at the border crossing of Ras Jdir, in Ben Guerden, in Tunisia, are screaming for help. Please, send this message to the Egyptian government. The situation there is deteriorating and there is fear that a humanitarian crisis may occur.

Shady Al-Mahmoudi(@ShadyAlmahmoudi) tweets:

الانباء القادمه من الاصدقاء التونسيين..تتحدث عن كارثه انسانيه للمصريين الهاربين من القذافي في راس جدير الحدودية..والاعداد تفوق امكانياتهم

Tunisian friends are talking about Egyptians fleeing from Gaddafi, facing a humanitarian crisis in Ras Jdir… and the numbers have gone beyond their capabilities

Wael Ghonim, an Egyptian protest leader, (@Ghonim) tweets:

Thanks Tunisian brothers and sisters for hosting your fellow Egyptians. You showed them more solidarity than our careless government!

Map of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt borders

Map of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt borders

Calls to come to the rescue of refugees in Ras Jdir have been spreading via social media, and campaigns to collect humanitarian aid have also been organised.

Hamdi Kadri(@hamdi_kadri) puts out a call for international NGOs to notice the situation:

Appel aux ONG du monde entier : la situation se dégrade sur les frontières tuniso-libyènne. Appel à l'aide.

A call for the NGOs all over the world: the situation is deteriorating at the Tunisian-Libyan border. Help!

HHassine(@HBHassine) tweets:

C'est le moment de faire preuve de solidarité, d'humanité et de responsabilité: à Ras Jdir,des milliers de gens ont besoin d'aide.Aidez-les!

It's time to show your solidarity, humanity, and responsibility: in Ras Jdir, thousands of people need help. Help them!

Zied Mhirsi,(@zizoo), a Tunisian medical doctor who has volunteered to help those fleeing violence in Libya tweets:

On a surtout besoin de ressources humaines pour gerer ces milliers d'arrivant. Venez a Ras Jedir et donnez de votre temps.

We need human resources more than anything, to manage the thousands who are crossing over to Tunisia. Come to Ras Jedir and give some of your time

He also praises the efforts of the Tunisian army:

L'armee tunisienne est en train de faire un super boulot. Les nations unies sont impressionnees.

The Tunisian army is doing great job. The United Nations are impressed.

Others, were concerned that the massive flow of refugees pay put Tunisia's interests at risk during a very fragile transition period since the President Ben Ali fled the country.

Mathieu von Rohr a Foreign Affairs Correspondent of DER SPEIGEL(@mathieuvonrohr) tweets:

refugee crisis in ras jdir is another threat to tunisia's stability – international help needed quickly.

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.


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