More than 350,000 people have fled the country, including most expatriate workers and their families. As the standoff between the Gaddafi government and the rebels fighting to overthrow him continues, casualties, including civilians, keep on growing and a peaceful end does not seem in sight. Heavy fighting has rendered the affected areas virtually unreachable to both aid and aid workers.
Non-governmental and international organisations, especially those in the health sector, are operating in some affected areas and have reported the urgent need for additional medical equipment and supplies.
Though not a classic humanitarian catastrophe, the crisis in Libya continues to grow worrisome with respect to protection of life and human rights. The risk for an intensified humanitarian situation remains high.
Details are provided in the situation reports received through Caritas Internationalis:
Caritas confederation members responded promptly to the situation. Since early March, several Caritas organisations including Caritas Internationalis (CI), have mobilised themselves in various countries which adjoin the Libyan border.
- Caritas Libya, Caritas Italy: within Libya
- Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Egypt: Egypt/Libya border
- Caritas France:Tunisia/Libya border
- Caritas Niger, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), CRS: Niger/Libya border
- Caritas Italy: boat refugees arriving into Italy
Pope Benedict XVI expressed his concern over the safety of the civilian population during his Sunday Blessing on 27 March 2011. Addressing his words to “those who hold military and political responsibility”, he called for the “suspension of the use of arms”. He further stated that “at moments of the highest tension, it becomes more urgent to use every diplomatic method available and to support even the weakest signal of openness and of willingness for reconciliation from all sides involved.”
Caritas International launched an urgent appeal in March 2011 to all Caritas members for funds to support the humanitarian efforts in Libya and in the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Niger, which are taking in refugees fleeing Libya. Funds provide appropriate protection, information and counselling services to the thousands of third-country nationals fleeing Libya and stranded at the Tunisian/Libyan border awaiting repatriation or resettlement. An Information and Counselling Centre has been set up in Libya, offering specific services to vulnerable migrants, primarily in the areas of counselling, orientation and referral. Up to 80% of the beneficiaries are refugees from Bangladesh.
CHARIS responded to the appeal by contributing S$50,000 to the Caritas Internationalis initiatives.
Caritas Internationalis’ latest update states that the humanitarian situation along the Egypt/Libya border is under control, while the response on the Tunisia/Libya border has been successfully completed. Caritas Internationalis is continuing to monitor developments in Libya and in Niger, where refugees continue to flee.
CHARIS tracks Caritas Internationalis’ updates and is prepared to respond accordingly to additional appeals.