By Tom Westcott.
London, 7 August:
Tunisian communities volunteered generous help to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Libya during the revolution, according to research published in the Forced Migration Review (FMR).
“Informal but highly effective community efforts in Tunisia, outside the auspices of national and international institutions, played a crucial role in ensuring the safe passage and accommodation of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Libya,” writes Katherine E. Hoffman, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA.
Groups of Egyptian, Chinese and Bangladeshi migrant workers seeking refuge after the outbreak of civil war were the first refugees to be helped by Tunisian villagers, whilst awaiting repatriation. These were followed by Amazigh (Berber) families from the Nafusa Mountains, whose shared language (Tamazight) and customs enabled easier integration.
Despite managing the aftereffects of their own revolution, “individuals with no previous experience in humanitarian assistance arranged for the stay of many of the 60-80,000 Libyans who settled mostly in south-eastern Tunisia,” Hoffman writes. As the revolution progressed, the exodus from Libya continued, with numbers of refugees rising from 1,000 per day to 1,000 per hour.
After the fall of Tripoli these included Qaddafi supporters but help was offered regardless: “It was increasingly hard to tell which refugees were on which side of the conflict but Tunisian families continued to assume the neutral stance of the humanitarian groups.” It is estimated that around 150,000 Libyans sought refuge in Tunisia.
This is just one migration issue generated by the Libyan Revolution explored in the latest edition of the FMR: Issue 39: North Africa and Displacement 2011-2012. The theme is the Arab Spring in North Africa and 20 articles discuss its continued local, regional and geopolitical reverberations.
Articles consider experiences, challenges and lessons learned from the uprisings in North Africa. Libya, distinct in the forced displacement of migrant workers from 120 countries during the Revolution, features extensively.
The FMR is published three times per year by the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University in the UK. It is published in at least three languages and both online and printed editions are available entirely free of charge.
Issue 39 of the FMR ‘North Africa and Displacement 2011-2012 is available free to read online or download in English, French and Arabic at: www.fmreview.org/north-africa .
An outline of the 20 articles in Issue 39 can be found here: http://www.fmreview.org/sites/fmr/files/FMRdownloads/en/north-africa/FMR39listing.pdf .
More information on the FMR can be found here: www.fmreview.org . [/restrict]