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article imageTawergha refugees fear slaughter in Sirte

By Katerina Nikolas     Oct 3, 2011 in World
Amidst those trapped in the besieged city of Sirte are 5,000 refugees who fled from Tawergah, where they claim they faced ethnic cleansing. The black African Libyan's of Tawergah are fearful of reprisals if caught by the NTC troops.
Hundreds of people have fled Sirte during the temporary ceasefire. Thousands of civilians remain, caught in the resumed cross fire between pro-Gaddafi loyalists defending their hometown and National Transitional Council troops determined to win control there. Amidst those trapped in the besieged city that is also subject to NATO bombing, are approximately 5,000 refugees who fled Tawergha, hoping to find safety in Sirte.
Tawergha was home to a population of around 20,000. The majority were black African Libyan’s. Some of the Tawerghi men joined the Gaddafi forces and are accused of committing arson, looting, kidnappings and killings in neighboring Mistrata. When fighters from Mistrata were victorious they forced the people of Tawergha from their homes.
The town now stands abandoned and rebel fighters’ refused to let residents return. Amnesty International reported that rebels have engaged in revenge killings and dragged pro-Gaddafi fighters from hospitals. According to Libya 360, Tawerghis admit some from the town fought for Gaddafi but say they are victims of pre-existing racism. Innocent women and children have been driven from their homes. A Tawergha elder, Hussein Muftah, said “The revolution was supposed to give people their rights, not to oppress them,” Global Civilians for Peace reported.Libya 360 reports that there is evidence that the Mistrata fighters have pursued those who fled Tawergha, taking them from camps. The 5,000 Tawerghis trapped in Sirte fear the violent reprisals they may face if the rebel fighters are victorious in their siege of the city, claiming that the towns’ population is facing ethnic cleansing by NTC troops. According to the Empire Strikes Black the new authorities in Mistrata have “announced plans to bulldoze the entire town so that none of Tawergha’s residents can ever return.”As the Libyan blacks from Tawergha wait anxiously to discover their fate, the BBC report that the International Organization of Migration is evacuating black African migrants from the rebel held city of Sabha where they have been treated with hostility by NTC forces.
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