Cross-border aid reaches 12,000 displaced civilians in western Libya

News Stories, 18 August 2014

© UNHCR/A.Ibrahim
A fork-lift truck driver unloads aid from one of the trucks that crossed from Tunisia to western Libya at the weekend.

TUNIS, Tunisia, August 18 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has for the first time begun sending aid into western Libya from Tunisia to help some of the tens of thousands of people displaced by weeks of fighting in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

A first convoy carrying urgently needed medical supplies and UNHCR relief items such as blankets, sleeping mats and nappies, was organized by the International Medical Corps (IMC) on Saturday. The two trucks set off from Medinine and crossed the border at Ras Ajdir before heading to the town of Zawiya, where some 12,000 people have sought shelter from the fighting in Tripoli, 45 kilometres to the east.

The IMC also sent a second convoy later Saturday of essential medicines and medical supplies to the displaced, who are living in very difficult conditions. Members of the Taher Al Zawia Organization have been distributing the aid.

"This weekend's operation is crucial and, we hope, paves the way for other humanitarian aid to reach affected populations who are stranded and in dire need of assistance," said Saado Quol, UNHCR's acting chief of mission in Libya.

UNHCR has a warehouse in Tripoli with stockpiles of critical relief items, but the agency cannot access these supplies because of the unstable security situation, which has hampered all its operations in the country since early July, including the provision of assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers.

Now in its fifth week of conflict, Tripoli is facing severe fuel and power shortages and this has disrupted services and the distribution of basic goods and supplies, including water, food, cooking oil, baby milk, supplies, and access to banking.

According to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, at least 2 million people may be at risk of food shortages if the fighting continues in Libya.

The departure of foreign medical staff has exacerbated the situation. UNHCR, through the International Medical Corps, has provided essential medicine and other core relief items to several hospitals, but is also extremely concerned about the situation of asylum-seekers and migrants in detention centres.

During the first week of August, hygiene kits were provided to people rescued at sea and held in several detention centres in the coastal towns of Al-Khums, Misrata and Zliten. Relief items and medical assistance were also distributed by the IMC to evacuees who left areas hit by missiles and rockets in Tripoli.

The Crisis Committee of the Tripoli City Council estimates that some 7,240 families (around 43,500 people) have been displaced by the weeks of fighting in the Libyan capital. Some sources estimate the figure may be much higher.

Although many families have sought shelter with friends and relatives in other cities, some have nowhere to go and are living in woods and open areas outside Tripoli. "These people cannot go further to the west as the road is increasingly unsafe, and they cannot go back to the east," UNHCR's Quol noted, adding: They are in urgent need of assistance and, despite the challenges, we need to be able to respond to the needs of affected civilians."

By Dalia Al Achi in Tunis, Tunisia

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Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Waves of fighting in eastern Democratic of the Republic since late April have displaced tens of thousands of people. Many have become internally displaced within the province, while others have fled to south-west Uganda's Kisoro district or to Rwanda via the Goma-Gisenyi crossing.

The stop-start clashes between government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda began in the province's Masisi and Walikale territories, but subsequently shifted to Rutshuru territory, which borders Uganda.

Between May 10-20, one of UNHCR's local NGO partners registered more than 40,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Jomba and Bwesa sectors.

The IDPs are living in difficult conditions, staying in school buildings and churches or with host families. They lack food and shelter and have limited access to health facilities. Some of the displaced have reported cases of extortion, forced labour, beatings and recruitment of minors to fight.

UNHCR and other major aid organizations plan to distribute food, medicine and other aid. More than 300,000 people have been forcibly displaced in North and South Kivu since the start of the year, according to UN figures.

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Internally Displaced in Chad

In scenes of devastation similar to the carnage across the border in Darfur, some 20 villages in eastern Chad have been attacked, looted, burned and emptied by roving armed groups since 4 November. Hundreds of people have been killed, many more wounded and at least 15,000 displaced from their homes.

Some 7,000 people have gathered near Goz Beida town, seeking shelter under trees or wherever they can find it. As soon as security permits, UNHCR will distribute relief items. The UN refugee agency has already provided newly arrived IDPs at Habila camp with plastic sheeting, mats, blankets and medicine. The agency is scouting for a temporary site for the new arrivals and in the meantime will increase the number of water points in Habila camp.

The deteriorating security situation in the region and the effect it might have on UNHCR's operation to help the refugees and displaced people, is of extreme concern. There are 90,000 displaced people in Chad, as well as 218,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad.

Posted on 30 November 2006

Internally Displaced in Chad

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