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Libyan Christian Clergy Seek Help for Stranded Migrants

ICC Note

Eritrean refugees are one of the most vulnerable victims of the unrest in Libya. Many Eritreans left their country due to persecution and other human rights violations. Eritrean government is one of the top Christian persecuting countries with more than 3000 Chrisitans imprisoned in the country due to their faith.

Fredrick Nzwili

02/28/2011 Libya (ENInews)-Libyan Christian clergy have appealed for urgent help for Eritrean refugees who have taken shelter in a church in Tripoli, following days of violent anti-government protests.

“We are mainly worried for hundreds of Eritreans who are stranded here and no one cares for their evacuation. Bishop (Giovanni) Martinelli (the Roman Catholic Bishop of Tripoli) made an appeal to all to help these people. Only Italy is trying to take a small number of 54,” the Rev. Daniel Furrugia, the Vicar General of the Vicariate of Tripoli told ENInews on 28 February, as the protests against the government of Moammar Gadhafi entered the 13th day.

Gadhafi’s brutal suppression of civilian demonstrators has received wide global condemnation by governments and world leaders, with the UN Security Council imposing sanctions against the Libyan authorities, imposing an arms embargo and freezing the assets of its leaders. It also referred the ongoing repression to the International Criminal Court. The UN estimates that more than 100 people have died in the clashes.

The clergy said the unrest has kept people away from church services. “This morning we had 10 am and 12 am Mass. The attendance was less than usual, but the church was full of Eritreans full of hope to leave this country,” Furrugia said on Sunday, 27 February.

Since 16 February, a group of around 40 families of Eritrean refugees, including children, have been stranded in an area close to Tripoli Airport with no means of evacuation, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). The organization said there were other African refugees who have taken refuge in the Catholic Church in Tripoli who needed help.

“We entered into contact with the Red Crescent and other Muslim organizations to appeal for protection of the churches, of the convents, of our faithful and of the sisters who work in the hospitals,” he said. He had also spoken of the people’s desire for more democracy and young people’s hopes for a better life.

There are about 80,000 Christians in Libya. The Christians come from Asia, Africa and Europe, and belong to the Catholic, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox and some Pentecostal churches.

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