Libya Refugee Exodus Continues

Thousands of people continue to flee the violence in Libya, with most refugees attempting to enter neighbouring Tunisia or Egypt, though there are pressing concerns regarding African migrants who remain trapped in the country, unable to leave for fear of being attacked by both the government and the opposition.

Officials say tens of thousands of people remain just inside Libya's borders, awaiting evacuation, safe passage or the granting of asylum, while thousands more have so far not attempted to leave their homes for fear of their own safety.

International Organisation for Migration officials say almost 200,000 people have fled Libya since violence began several weeks ago, headed towards neighbouring Egypt, Tunisia and Niger.

Europe, the United States and the United Nations have announced plans to donate $30 million in humanitarian aid for refugees. Barack Obama, the US president, has also approved the use of US military aircraft and civilian flights to evacuate people from Libya.

Flights from the US's Ramstein Air Base in Germany are currently being prepared, and flights could leave as early as Friday, senior US defence officials told the Associated Press news agency, on condition of anonymity.

Obama announced on Thursday that US military aircraft would play a humanitarian role by helping Egyptians who had fled the chaos in Libya and become stranded in Tunisia. The planes are to fly them from Tunisia back to Egypt. The Pentagon has also ordered two Navy warships into the Mediterranean.

On Thursday, migration officials said they evacuated 5,500 foreign workers from the eastern opposition stronghold of Benghazi, which is Libya's second largest city. Nine flights provided by Britain and the UN refugee agency also flew 1,700 people from Djerba, in Tunisia, to Cairo.

France has also lent two planes to that effort, which will allow another 2,250 stranded Egyptians to return home over the next f
Al Jazeera