The rebels don’t like it when you call them rebels. That’s Qaddafi’s term, they say, and prefer Reagan’s: freedom fighters. This matters only for public relations purposes, because among themselves, members of anti-Qaddafi militias don’t speak English, but rather Arabic and Amazir — the Berber language — and call themselves thwar, which roughly means revolutionaries. Fair enough, it’s their war.
In April, the thwar based in Libya’s desert interior attacked a border crossing 300 kilometers southwest of Tripoli; found it inexplicably lightly-defended; and seized it, opening an escape route to neighboring Tunisia. Over the next month, more than 60,000people drained from Libya into Tunisia, according to Kamel Derich of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, who runs that agency’s efforts near the crossing. Three refugee camps, one run by Derich’s UNHCR team, one by the government of the United Arab Emirates, and one by the kingdom of Qatar, housed fewer than 10,000 Libyans, he estimated. The majority found private shelter with families in Tataoine, a rural town on the edge of the Tunisian Sahara.
“It is a Muslim obligation,” said Ehmansouva Naouifel, a clerk in Tataoine’s city Commerce Department, while shopping in a grocery store downtown. “We wish to help, but also, you must help.” Since March, Tataoine families have been hosting the 60,000 of more than 400,000 Libyans who came to Tunisia since February, often in spare rooms vacated by family working abroad in Europe.
Read more at The Atlantic
[Images: Libyan refugees cross the border into Tunisia / Reuters]
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