Jesuit Refugee Service calls for assistance of Eritrean asylum seekers in Libya

By Matthew Vella

 Some 2,000 Eritrean asylum seekers stranded in Libya have made a desperate appeal for help to the Catholic Church in Tripoli.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, has urged the international community to rescue them by providing a way out of Libya to safety, the Jesuite Refugee Service (Malta) said.

As tension escalates in Libya and states rush to evacuate their nationals, sub-Saharan African asylum seekers are all but forgotten, JRS director Fr Joseph Cassar said.

“JRS Malta joins its voice to that of the Church in Libya and urges the international community not to forget these asylum seekers who do not have anyone to protect them, least of all their country of origin, which they fled in fear of their life.

“Unable to obtain the protection of their government, asylum seekers are stuck in Libya, where they are extremely vulnerable to attacks,” Cassar said. “In the past days we have heard reports of innocent sub-Saharan Africans being beaten, stabbed and even killed, as they are wrongly suspected of being mercenaries hired by Gaddafi to kill the Libyan people.”

JRS Malta has appealed to EU Member States, including Malta, and the rest of the international community to take immediate and concrete action to provide protection to this very vulnerable population by providing resettlement opportunities for them.

“While commending Malta’s immediate and effective response to the crisis by facilitating the evacuation of thousands of foreign nationals seeking to leave Libya, we also call upon the Government of Malta to undertake urgent measures, as an extraordinary humanitarian gesture, to offer safe transit to asylum seekers who need to leave Libya and reach a place of refuge.

“It is clear that urgent, multi-lateral action is needed, as Malta cannot do this alone,” Cassar said.

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Posted by on Mar 4 2011 Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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