Feature: Libyan refugees stranded as conflicts see no quick end

08:49, June 20, 2011      

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Frustrated by the war between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that sees no end in sight, hundreds of displaced people are stranded in a refugee camp in Benghazi, waiting for medical treatment and eager to go home.

Compared to what others have been through, the refugees in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi are provided with enough food, safe shelters and even psychological treatment, while a great number of others are struggling to cross borders to reach neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.

"I went back to my house several times but only found situation there getting worse and worse," said Mosa who lived in Ajidabiya, a town that has witnessed four battles between rebels and government troops since the conflicts broke out in February.

Living in a 15-squaremeter-makeshift house with his wife and four children, the 40-something man said they were scared by gunshots and explosion in his hometown and will never go back unless the war comes to an end.

Since it was set up on March 8, this camp has provided shelters to 20,000 people, including Libyans from Brega, Ajidabiya, Misrata and other nationalities from Nigeria, Somali, Chad, and Ghana.

"We have managed to arrange activities such playing football, making handicraft like T-shirt and giving lectures to help the displaced people forget about what they had been through and be brave to face their future lives," Fath Garaur, the camp's general manager, told Xinhua.

The volunteers took children to the zoo and the park every day, Fath said, comparing to other refugees living in Egypt and Tunisia, "the situation here is much better."

Every day, thousands of refugees cross into Tunisia. The United Nations and other international organizations have made urgent appeals to Western countries to take in more refugees fleeing the unrest and provide more aid to the war-torn Libya.

According to UN sources, more than 400,000 refugees fled into Tunisia in the months following the civil unrest in Libya, 70,000 of them currently living in southern Tunisia that runs short of food and other necessities.

"We have received a woman coming from Misrata who lost her two sons and her legs during the conflicts. She is very depressed when she came here," said Anas Alabidy, a volunteer in the refugee camp in Benghazi. "We held parties for her, trying to persuade her not to think about the nightmare she had been through. But, you know, it is quite difficult. She has been transferred to an Egyptian hospital because she cannot receive medical treatment in Benghazi," Anas said. "She is one of the people whose lives are ruined by the war. We have noting to do but to wait," he added.

Ahead of World Refugee Day which is set on Monday, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres visited Tunisia on Saturday and issued a fresh call for the international community to help countries that have sheltered hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence in Libya.

"I am personally lobbying for more resettlement slots. It is urgent that we provide these people with solutions," he said.

However, the rebels and the Libyan government have never stop trading tough words since the conflicts erupted four months ago and seemed difficult to reach a compromise on Gaddafi's departure, which suggests that the war may last for a longer period.

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