Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Over 180,000 refugees flee to Libya's borders

GENEVA – Libyan border crossings were overwhelmed Wednesday by tens of thousands of hungry, fearful people fleeing its burgeoning civil war. Egypt and a handful of European nations launched emergency airlifts and sent ships to handle the chaotic exodus.

U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told The Associated Press that over 180,000 refugees have reached the border. Over 77,300 people have crossed east from Libya into Egypt, most of them Egyptians, while a similar number have fled west from Libya into Tunisia, she said. Another 30,000 more were still waiting in Libya at the border, trying to get into Tunisia.

She said Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi's forces appear to be targeting Egyptians and Tunisians, apparently thinking they are the main trigger of the uprising against Gadhafi's 42-year-old regime. Authoritarian regimes in both neighboring countries have been toppled in the last two months by a wave of popular protests.

"(There are) many, many terrified refugees" in the Libyan capital of Tripoli who are too afraid to move for fear they will be killed, Fleming told the AP.

Read more at AP

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