Officials: 250,000 people have fled Libya
GENEVA—About 250,000 people have fled Libya since the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi's regime began last month, officials said Friday, as they warned they are having trouble getting foreign workers home.
European officials called on all nations to help. European Commission President Jose Barroso said at an EU summit on Libya in Brussels that the bloc was preparing to send more aircraft and ships to help handle the exodus.
The U.N. Human Rights Council, meanwhile, appointed three experts to a panel investigating alleged abuses in Libya.
Council president Sihasak Phuangketkeow said the panel would be headed by Egyptian professor and U.N. war crimes expert Cherif Bassiouni and its work could begin within two weeks, hopefully within Libya with the support of Gadhafi's regime, which it is investigating.
The other two panelists are former Jordanian culture minister and lawyer Asma Khader and Canadian lawyer and former International Criminal Court judge Philippe Kirsch.
Phuangketkeow said they would look at "the alleged continuing violations in Libya and aim to bring a measure of accountability and justice to the victims."
For the 6,000 people a day still crossing into Tunisia and Egypt -- many of them Bangladeshi workers -- aid workers are scrambling to secure enough planes and ships, despite contributions from Europe, the U.S. and other nations. The Bangladeshis, for example, need longer flights, said Mohammed Abdiker, the International Organization for Migration's operation director.
"If the majority continue to be Bangladeshis needing long haul charter flights to get home, the cost to repatriate them will far exceed our current resources," he said.
There were 8,000 refugees and asylum seekers already in Libya when the crisis began -- many of them people fleeing from Iraq, Somalia and Eritrea. Among those only a few hundred had managed to cross the borders out of Libya.
So far, however, refugee workers have not seen Libyans crossing the border to flee their homeland, U.N. refugee agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said.
The migration organization and the U.N. say they need about 70 long-haul flights to Bangladesh and other Asian and sub-Saharan African destinations.