Over 22,000 stranded in Lebanon, trying to flee
UN refugee agency UNHCR has expressed concern for safety of over 22,000 people stranded in Lebanon.india Updated: Jul 24, 2006 19:03 IST
UN refugee agency UNHCR has expressed concern for the safety of over 22,000 people, mostly from Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, stranded in Lebanon in the wake of Israeli military actions in retaliation of capture of its two troopers by Hezbollah.
"There has been a demonstration outside our office in Beirut by some of these frightened people, including stranded migrant workers, asking us to put them on a boat to Cyprus to safety," Director of UN High Commissioner for Refugees in West Asia Ekber Menemencioglu said on Sunday.
"We are helping with their immediate needs by directing and taking them to shelters, where they can get a roof over their heads and food packages," he added.
Yasser Saadi, a watchmaker from Baghdad who left Iraq five years ago, said even going back to Iraq held no future for him. Thousands of his compatriots share his views and are reluctant to leave.
Saadi, nevertheless, was heading to Syria, 60 km from Beirut, to escape the bombing by Israeli warplanes.
An official in the Iraqi embassy said 3,000 Iraqis were officially registered in Lebanon, but estimated that the real number was closer to 21,000.
The official said the Lebanese authorities were allowing Iraqis without official papers to cross the border into Syria.
Mohammed Farouk, one of the Sudandese seeking to leave the country said a few thousand Sudanese, who had been doing sundry jobs as labourers, caretakers and cleaners, had already left Lebanon and many more were leaving.
Farouk had been released from prison last week after the authorities granted an amnesty to all minor offenders nearing the end of their sentence.