The United Nations has called for an epic humanitarian evacuation of people seeking to escape Libya for Tunisia, citing the “crisis point” conditions at the border between the two countries.
The UN estimates that about 75,000 people have fled to Tunisia since the revolt against Moammar Gaddafi began and at least another 40,000 more are waiting to pass through the border. Other estimates claim 140,000 people have crossed into Tunisia.
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said thousands of lives are at risk.
“We need concrete action on the ground to provide humanitarian and medical assistance. Time is the essence, said Ban, adding that the top priorities are food, water, sanitation and shelter.”
In addition, the UN has voted to expel Libya from its Human Rights Council, accusing Gaddafi of having committed “gross and systematic violations of human rights.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are asking governments to engage in a massive humanitarian evacuation of tens of thousands of Egyptians and other third country nationals.
It is believed that aside from Tunisians and Egyptians, thousands of Vietnamese, Indians, Turks, Chinese, Bangladeshi and Thai workers remain trapped in Libya.
The UNHCR and IOM are beseeching the respective governments to provide massive financial and logistical assets... including planes, boats and expert personnel.
In a joint statement, the agencies said they deemed “this operation essential as the overcrowding at the border worsens by the hour.”
There is an urgent need to decongest the border area which lacks adequate facilities to host large numbers of people, said IOM's Tunisia mission chief Marc Petzold.
Ban added: These UN actions send a strong and important message - a message of great consequence within the region and beyond - that there is no impunity, that those who commit crimes against humanity will be punished, that fundamental principles of justice and accountability shall prevail.
In addition, The European Union will convene calling an extraordinary summit for March 11 to discuss the unrest in Libya and other parts of the Middle East
The BBC reported that the huge influx of people pouring into Tunisia is causing further turmoil in that country, which is itself undergoing political upheaval and violent demonstrations.
The Tunisian army has arrived at the border to preserve some sense of order and allow the flow of refugees unimpeded.
Meanwhile, the violence in Libya continues unabated as Gaddafi refuses international demands to step down from power. While the eastern parts of the country appear to be in the control of anti-government groups, Gaddafi is attempting to consolidate his rule in and around Tripoli and other regions on the east.