Libyans fleeing to Egypt as Gaddafi advances: UN

Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:43pm GMT

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - Libyans fleeing the advance of Muammar Gaddafi's forces on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi are crossing into Egypt in growing numbers, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes said the UNHCR was prepared to provide supplies and temporary shelter for a sudden influx after Gaddafi troops forced insurgents out of the last major town before Benghazi in eastern Libya.

"Until this week, it was almost entirely migrant workers crossing into Egypt. But on Monday nearly half of the around 2,250 people were Libyans, including many families with children," she told Reuters.

"On the Egyptian side of Libya, we haven't seen that before."

A Reuters correspondent said the poorly armed rebels pulled out of Ajdabiyah after the town was attacked by land and air, and Libyan state television said Gaddafi forces were now in full control there.

Soliman Bouchuiguir, the president of a Libyan exile human rights organisation in Geneva and who for many years worked for the U.N., told Reuters on Monday he expected "a bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda" if Benghazi fell.

Also on Monday, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Gaddafi was using indiscriminate force against his own people and that the international community was obliged to intervene.

NO-FLY EFFORTS FAIL   Continued...

<p>Somalian refugees who fled the unrest in Libya walk in a refugee camp near the Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir March 15, 2011. REUTERS/Anis Mili</p>
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