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Libya: ICRC launches appeal for 24 million Swiss francs

04-03-2011 News Release 11/48

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing for 24 million Swiss francs (approximately 25.7 million US dollars, or 18.4 million euros) in order to assist more than 200,000 people affected by the crisis in Libya over the next two months.

The funds will be used to provide basic supplies and services, including food, water, medical care, sanitation and hygiene items, for around 110,000 people inside Libya and for an additional 100,000 crossing over the border into Tunisia.

Several hundred people have been killed and thousands wounded in the violent unrest between the security forces and armed opposition which started on 15 February. Heavy fighting has been reported on a daily basis in some areas, resulting in a humanitarian crisis that has forced tens of thousands of people to flee Libya.

"Clashes and air strikes continue, and a steady flow of people is still pouring into Tunisia and Egypt every day. We're in a phase of this crisis where we need to be able to meet the existing needs of the victims, as well as those that are likely to arise in the coming weeks, especially if the fighting persists or intensifies," said the president of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, today.

The ICRC is particularly concerned about the plight of vulnerable people inside Libya, including stranded foreign migrant workers and the wounded and sick.

Over the past week, the ICRC has sent 16 emergency specialists, including doctors and nurses, to the east of Libya to protect and assist the population together with the Libyan Red Crescent, which has been responding to the crisis since it started. So far, in total, the ICRC has mobilized more than 70 emergency staff to respond to the diverse needs arising from the violence.

On 3 March, two Libyan Red Crescent ambulances were shot at in the city of Misrata, resulting in two of their volunteers being injured. One of the ambulances was also completely burnt. "We deplore the fact that Red Crescent volunteers have come under fire. This is quite simply unacceptable," said the ICRC's director general, Yves Daccord. "Humanitarian workers must be allowed to carry out their work, and patients must be given safe access to medical care."

Mr Daccord reiterated the ICRC's appeal for secure and urgent access to the west of the country, where the organization has not yet been able to send emergency staff. He said another ICRC medical team remained ready and willing on the border with Tunisia to go into the west of Libya as soon as security conditions allow.

Over the past six days, the ICRC has helped around 3,000 people in Tunisia who fled the violence to call their families. On the Egyptian border, the country's Red Crescent society, supported by the ICRC, has also assisted people coming from Libya to contact their loved ones.

The ICRC is coordinating its actions closely with the Libyan, Tunisian and Egyptian Red Crescent societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan (English, Arabic, French), ICRC Benghazi, tel: +20 1 87 42 43 44
Mohamed Ben Ahmed (French, Arabic), ICRC Tunis, tel: +216 98 432 393
Biljana Milosevic (English), ICRC Tunis, tel: +216 20 33 62 38
Soumaya Beltifa (French, Arabic, English), tel: +216 25 336 200
Mohammad Sultan (English, Arabic), ICRC Cairo, tel: +20 1 05 05 33 10
Anna Nelson (English, French), ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 63  or  +41 79 217 3264