News / Africa

Libya Conflict Has Displaced 550,000 People

Some of the 1,200 migrant workers who were evacuated from Misrata by boat, many suffering from dehydration and needing medical attention, leave the boat after it arrived at the port in Benghazi, Libya, April 15, 2011
Some of the 1,200 migrant workers who were evacuated from Misrata by boat, many suffering from dehydration and needing medical attention, leave the boat after it arrived at the port in Benghazi, Libya, April 15, 2011

U.S. officials said Monday that more than a half-million people, most of them third-country nationals, have fled Libya since the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi's government began in February. And they say about 5,000 people are joining the exodus every day. 

Officials here say the outflow is affecting all six countries bordering Libya, but with the burden failing mainly on Tunisia and Egypt.

They say that to help cope with it, the world community, led by U.N. agencies, has mounted one of the largest humanitarian airlifts in history.

Senior officials at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, who briefed reporters on Monday said an estimated 550,000 people have fled Libya since fighting began.

They said the outflow consists largely of third country nationals who had been working there, but also includes Libyans fearing for their safety, and refugees from conflicts in Sudan and Eritrea who had been given shelter by Libya.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Reuben Brigety said that as of Monday, 117,000 people have been airlifted home to countries as far away as Bangladesh and Vietnam.

He said the charter flights, organized by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, or IOM, are intended to ease the strain on Tunisia and Egypt.

"For both Tunisia and Egypt, you’re talking about two countries that are both very fragile politically at the moment, that have both undergone their own recent transitions," said Brigety. "So what we’ve tried to do is to continue to have the air bridge maintained, so that you don’t have large number of third country nationals build up in camps and create the sorts of security problems that those sorts of populations might create."

Brigety said the airlift has been partially underwritten by a $13 million U.S. contribution to the IOM, part of the overall $47 million the United States has committed to humanitarian assistance related to the Libya conflict.

That figure is separate from the $25 million in non-lethal assistance, including medical supplies, body armor and radios, the Obama administration pledged to Libyan rebels last week.

Officials here say the first U.S. food aid commitment for Libya, consisting of more than 800 tons of beans and cooking oil, arrived Monday at the Egyptian port of Alexandria for shipment to relief centers near and inside Libya.

Food and other relief supplies are being dispensed in Libya by international agencies. The State Department's Reuben Brigety said it is important that aid deliveries remain impartial and not be associated with either side in the conflict.

"The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, UNOCHA, has consistently said that they do not see a need for military support for delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Libya at this point," added Brigety. "They continue to ask for respect for the Oslo Guidelines, which call for the use of military assistance only as a last resort. And we certainly have not had any indication that humanitarian assistance will be required to be delivered under armed escorts at the moment."

USAID has a small team of officials in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi to coordinate with the opposition Transitional National Council on aid needs in areas it controls.  A senior State Department envoy, Chris Stevens, handles U.S. political contacts with the TNC.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid