Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru, said yesterday that about 20,000 Nigerians residing in war-torn Libya refused to be evacuated from the country despite the federal government’s elaborate efforts to evacuate them.
He made this known while speaking before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, which is investigating the reports of alleged killing of Nigerians by forces loyal to the NTC.
Ashiru revealed that the government had received reports that forces loyal to the new Libyan authorities were attacking Nigerians and other black immigrants and subjecting them to inhumane treatment.
He added that the government had evacuated 5,000 Nigerians since February this year while another 1,000 were later evacuated by the International Organization for Migration, IOM, but the remaining refused to make themselves available to be airlifted home when air planes were sent to Libya.
He said: “Unfortunately, while government can provide aircraft to evacuate those Nigerians willing to leave, it cannot coerce or force those not willing to be evacuated.”
Ashiru added, “Nigerians seem to have been the object of unjustified and blind reprisals in the wake of the unrests in Libya,” adding that “We hold NTC accountable to the alleged reports of human rights violation and inhumane treatment of Nigerians. If we did not recognise the NTC there will not have been opportunity for Nigeria to engage the NTC directly and talk about their welfare of Nigerians in Libya.”
The International Organization for Migration, IOM, said on Monday that more than 1,200 African migrants from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan, who were stuck in the southern Libyan desert town of Sabha for weeks in dire conditions had been evacuated.