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Aid increased for Libyan refugees

Switzerland has boosted its support for refugees fleeing Libya by giving SFr500,000 ($540,000) to the International Organisation for Migration.

This content was published on March 3, 2011 - 08:33
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Eight Swiss humanitarian aid experts have been on the Libyan border since the weekend, helping with water and sanitation. Switzerland has already donated SFr500,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Also on Thursday Swiss Solidarity, a charity led by swissinfo.ch's parent body, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, launched an appeal for donations for North Africa (see link). The charity Caritas has also released SFr200,000.

Libyan border crossings were overwhelmed on 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.

United Nations refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told The Associated Press that more than 180,000 refugees had reached the border.

More than 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 were still waiting in Libya at the border, trying to get into Tunisia.

Fleming said Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s forces appeared to be targeting Egyptians and Tunisians, believing they were the main trigger of the uprising against Gaddafi’s 42-year-old regime.

Authoritarian regimes in both neighbouring countries have been toppled in the past two months by a wave of popular protests.

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