The German foreign minister has announced that Berlin will send warships to evacuate refugees fleeing to Tunisia from Libya. Meanwhile, the UN and Red Cross are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe in North Africa.
Thousand of Egyptians have fled Libya for Tunisia
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced Thursday that Berlin will send three warships to evacuate refugees who fled to Tunisia after escaping violence in Libya.
Westerwelle made the announcement in Bratislava where he is meeting with officials from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"The German government has decided to bring migrants from Tunisia to Egypt," the foreign minister said.
Most of the 4,000 refugees set to be evacuated are Egyptians who were caught in the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The United Nations and the Red Cross have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe. More than 10,000 refugees are fleeing from Libya to Tunisia every day.
"The images coming out of Tunisia are overwhelming," Westerwelle said.
He added that he expects the evacuation to begin on Friday. The operation is an international effort sanctioned by the United Nations. European countries and the US have mobilized planes, ships and money in an effort to prevent a crisis.
Political protests have gripped North Africa since January, toppling the governments in both Tunisia and Egypt. Libya descended into violence in February after Gadhafi responded to demonstrations with military force.
Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler