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

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora