The British government will assist about 5,000 migrant workers leave Libya, according to the secretary of state for international development secretary, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell.

The migrants have been trapped in western Libya, particularly in the Misurata area which has witnessed a brutal assault by forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi against the rebels who still control the town.

Mitchell, who is in New York attending a United Nations summit on the growing humanitarian crisis in Libya, explained that Britain will charter ships chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help evacuate migrants out of Misurata.

The IOM has already evacuated two boatloads of refugees from Libya.

The vast majority of trapped migrants are believed to be from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and other Middle Eastern countries.

Britain will also provide funds to pay for medical aid to migrants under the auspices of the International Medical Corps (IMC).

We've been quite effective at coping with the problems on the borders but inside Libya because of the actions of the Gaddafi regime the situation has deteriorated most markedly in Misurata, Mitchell told the BBC.

It is extremely important that the international community provides the necessary humanitarian support to help with that.
Mitchell also criticized the Gaddafi regime for not allowing humanitarian aid workers into most of the Libyan interior.

We call once again today for unfettered access for those who are leading the urgent effort to ensure that humanitarian support can be delivered to people who are in desperate need, he said.

Meanwhile, the situation in Misurata is dire, with reports that civilians are facing shortages of food, water and power, as Gaddafi’s troops continue to bombard the town.

The British government estimates that since February, at least 300 civilians have died in Misrata and thousands have been wounded.

The humanitarian situation in Misurata is of great concern, Mitchell said.

Valerie Ann Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator has said that thousands of people in Misurata are in desperate need of aid.

Baroness Amos is in Libya and has been speaking with government officials in Tripoli for help with refugees, but reportedly has failed to receive any cooperation.