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Ireland to assist emergency evacuation of civilians from Misrata

As yet more civilian die at the hands of government forces in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore says Ireland has “a responsibility to act”.

Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Ministers Eamon Gilmore.
Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Ministers Eamon Gilmore.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

IRELAND IS TO assist the emergency evacuation of civilians from the city of Misrata in Libya, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has announced.

The government, through its overseas development programme Irish Aid, is to fund the International Organisation for Migration (IoM) to evacuate 1000 civilians on a specially-chartered ship.

“Given the increasing number of casualties in Misrata and the thousands of lives that are in danger we felt a responsibility to act,” the Tánaiste said.

“Colonel Gadaffi’s forces have agreed to allow ships into the port to evacuate civilians and we have requested that the IoM undertake an emergency operation on our behalf. Irish Aid officials have been in close contact with them over the last few days, putting in place the necessary measures for the mission to take place.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said the IoM has carried out a number of such emergency missions to Misrata, which has been under fire by Col Gadaffi’s forces for nearly eight weeks.

Last week, the UN estimated at least 20 children had been killed during the ongoing hostilities.

Minister of State for Overseas Development and Trade, Jan O’Sullivan said “The humanitarian situation in Libya is continuing to deteriorate, with thousands of people urgently needing assistance in camps along its borders, as well as within the country itself”.

O’Sullivan said that Irish Aid would contribute the €300,000 cost of the evacuation mission, as well as €200,000 to support the evacuees once they reach the port of Benghazi and for the IoM’s work with people fleeing into neighbouring countries.

Read more: France and Italy to send military officials to advise Libyan rebels >

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