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Published:April 29th, 2011 12:15 EST
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UN: Fighting Intensifies Near Libyan-Tunisian Border

By SOP newswire3

Fighting near a border crossing between Libya and Tunisia has stopped the flow of migrants from Libya`s Western Mountains region, the United Nations refugee agency reported today, voicing concern that those fleeing might be caught up in the clashes between Government troops and opposition forces.

Convoys of vehicles carrying families had lined up at the Dehiba border crossing before fighting intensified yesterday, according to Melissa Fleming, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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There had been a renewed exodus of Libyans crossing from the impoverished Western Mountains region in the past three days " over 3,100 people had crossed the border on Wednesday alone, " Ms. Fleming told reporters in Geneva.

She said the large number of the refugees who arrived recently in the Dehiba region of south-eastern Tunisia have put a strain on UNHCR`s resources there, adding that the majority of them are women and children.

In the Choucha camp, near the Ras Adjir border crossing, where many third-country nationals are stranded, 20 people from Somalia returned to Libya and reportedly bordered a boat heading to Italy with some 280 other Africans. UNHCR is trying to confirm reports that the boat capsized in high seas, Ms. Fleming said.

Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), said an inter-agency coordination meeting on the situation in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata last weekend heard that there were shortages of nurses, doctors and surgeons, and that no post-surgical care is available.

He said two medical charities reported that patients are often being sent home due to a lack of capacity in hospitals and that only small health facilities were operating as hospitals. Medical supplies could not be stored at a central location since warehouses were being targeted for attack.

Mr. Jasarevic said the WHO-led health cluster is preparing a response plan based on the needs and gaps identified by the assessment team that went to Misrata. WHO and its partners are also working on a plan to evacuate injured people from Misrata, he said, adding that the agency had received information that about 500 people are in need of evacuation to Benghazi.

WHO has sent medical supplies to Ajdabiyya by road from Tobruk, enough to cover the health needs of 7,000 people for three months, Mr. Jasarevic added.

www.un.org