- Title: NIGER: Thousands fleeing violence in Libya flood into Agadez
- Date: 6th October 2011
- Summary: VARIOUS OF WOMAN WITH YOUNG BABY SURROUNDED BY BAGS CHILDREN SITTING NEXT TO A TRUCK
- Embargoed: 21st October 2011 13:00
- Location: Niger, Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: Conflict,International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA5NI4ZXIZAZ32C6LTVJ0B7WBDC
- Story Text: More than 3400 people have arrived in the Nigerian city of Agadez after fleeing violence in Libya. Trucks laden with people and belongings have been streaming into the city since the October 01 after traveling for days through the desert.
The new arrivals come with stories of brutality and killings allegedly carried out by Libyan rebel fighters against black Africans, who have been accused of acting as mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi's fallen government.
Some of the people on the trucks, like Omar Abdoulaye, are Nigeriens who were working in Libya and have returned after fleeing the violence. Others come from other African nations including Nigeria, Mali and Chad.
"The day we left Sebha, they re-entered the area where we were staying, they came into the houses and they were shooting at everyone. In the neighbourhood where we had climbed aboard the trucks, nine Nigerians were bound and killed by eight Arabs," Abdoulaye said.
He says rebels have been trying to claim that the violence was carried out by Gaddafi loyalists, however Abdoulaye says they have no doubt in their minds who was committing the crimes against them.
"It's true, it wasn't Gaddaffi's people who harmed us, it was the others," he said.
Days of traveling through the desert with little water and sometimes no food has left many of the new arrivals weak and in need of medical care.
"Its really a huge problem. These people come into people's homes, they kill people and they take everything they find. Its not a contained phenomenon. And now, there is no authority to stop them," said Kore Nee Indi, another Nigerien returnee.
For those like Indi who have family in Niger, finding a place to stay now that they have reached safety will be the first priority.
But for hundreds of Africans from other nations, some of who have lived in Libya for years and don't have a place to return to, finding refuge will depend on what they can get from the Niger state.
The United Nations has warned of a looming refugee crisis in the landlocked nation bordering Libya, with little resources to cope with the flood of people. According to the UN, as many as 100,000 people may have already crossed over into Niger and many more are expected in the coming weeks.
Violence against black Africans started at the beginning of the conflict in Libya when rebel groups fighting to over throw Gaddafi started targeting Africans believed to be hired as mercenaries by the deposed Libyan leader.
A report by the international group Human Rights Watch has documented widespread violence and evidence of arbitrary killings of black Africans during the liberation struggle.
The Libyan interim government run by the rebels has promised to investigate the claims.
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