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Cameroonians Flee Racist Violence in Libya via Chad

Agence France-Presse, 14 November 2000

NDJAMENA (AFP)—More than 100 Cameroon nationals fleeing an outbreak of violence against black African workers in Libya arrived at Chad’s Ndjamena airport from Tripoli on Tuesday.

The 117 Cameroonians were taken in charge by their country’s ambassador here, but were gathered in an airport cargo hangar where many were selling their modest belongings to raise cash.

The Libyans took almost all our things. That’s why we’re selling our luggage, to get a bit of cash to go back home, said one of the group, a man in his 30s who said he had been a basketball player in the Libyan capital.

Several thousand African workers have been repatriated to their homelands in sub-Saharan Africa since an outbreak of racist violence began in September, in which dozens of people were reported to have been attacked and killed.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has vowed to bring to justice those responsible for the assaults targetting migrant black workers who had numbered about one million in a country of six million Arabs.

Libyans don’t like blacks, said a woman who gave her name and age as Karine, 28, telling AFP she had lived in Libya for eight months.

We had been grouped in a camp for the past two months for our own safety, she said. We weren’t allowed to go out.

Her compatriots were selling clothes, shoes, watches and diaries to Chadians on the cheap, since they had no money.

A Cameroonian embassy official said that more people from the west African country were expected to arrive in Ndjamena in the next few days. Officially, 250 Cameroon nationals had been in Libya.