According to the latest report released by the International Organization of Migration, more than 1.28 million people have been uprooted as a result of the recent violence in Libya. Of this figure, about one million are Libyan nationals and about a quarter million are third country nationals, many of whom were guest workers.
Of the half a million who have fled to Tunisia, 290,000 are Libyan, 190,000 are third country nationals, and 57,000 are Tunisian nationals. Egypt has received the second largest refugee flux of 340,000 migrations: 163,000 are Libyan, 104,000 are Egyptian, and 77,000 are third country nationals.
Nigeria has received 72,000 refugees from Libya. Chad has received approximately 31,000 refugees and Algeria has received 20,000. Italy has received 17,000, Sudan 3,000 and Malta 1,500.
Although the vast majority of migrants have fled to North Africa, the 18,500 Libyan migrants that have fled northward, to Italy and Malta, have contributed to the European perception of a North African “refugee crisis.” This fear is most pronounced on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which, in recent months, has seen it’s national population of 5,000 outnumbered by a total of 20,000 refugees from Tunisia and Libya. This island, 12 square miles in size, is unwilling and unable to harbor the unexpected population flux. Soccer stadiums have been fenced-off and converted into reception areas and makeshift refugee camps.
Groups of particular concern are unaccompanied minors. In mid-July, 16 refugees under the age of 17 arrived in Tunisia. Women are particularly vulnerable, and in some cases receive special female-only sleeping accommodations outside of over-overcrowded, hostile refugee camps. Due to deep-seated racism against Black African’s in the Maghreb, sub-Saharan migrant workers remain at particularly high-risk. In Libya, Blacks were violently targeted by rebel forces in late-February and early-March after inaccurate speculation that they were pro-Gadhafi mercenaries.
Libya’s popular uprising, turned civil war, is now predominately a NATO-led military operation. As the violence in Libya continues, so will the refugee crisis.
According the 1973 War Power Resolution, the U.S. military is prohibited from foreign intervention lasting 90 days or longer in the absence of congressional authorization.
Speaker of the House, John Boehner, criticized the White House’s policy toward Libya, questioning the legality of continued intervention as well as the cost of $10 million a day to the United States.
In response, President Barack Obama has defended U.S. involvement in Libya and rejected Boehner’s suggestion that the U.S. is in breach of law.