2010-2011: The Arab world in crisis


Despite certain similarities, the events of the "Arab Spring" that swept through several countries in North Africa and the Middle East differed in terms of their humanitarian consequences. 


Although several of the countries concerned managed smooth political transitions and were able to organize democratic elections in 2012, others experienced – or are continuing to experience – violence ranging from social unrest to extreme armed conflict. Examples include Libya as well as Syria, where the intensifying conflict has had serious humanitarian consequences. 


Faced with these emergencies the ICRC, in close cooperation with the National Societies of the countries concerned, has been working to respond rapidly to the needs of the wounded, sick and displaced, and of those who have been detained or separated from their families.


The ICRC continues to work in countries directly or indirectly affected by the events of the "Arab Spring". In Libya it visits detainees and helps family members who have been separated to get back in touch. 

In 2012, the ICRC in Syria provided the Syrian Red Crescent with food and essential items for more than 500,000 persons.

Facts and figures

  • In Libya the ICRC cleared some 11,000 items of unexploded ordinance and more than 13,500 rounds of ammunition.
  • In Egypt the ICRC is working closely with the League of Arab States to promote international humanitarian law and to ensure that it is incorporated into national law.
  • In Syria, thanks to the ICRC 17 millions persons gained access to safe drinking water in 2012.
  • Families reunited in Benghazi

    Benghazi, harbour. Families separated by the conflict are reunited when the ICRC-chartered vessel from Tripoli arrives.
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  • Field hospital in Sirte

    50 km west of Sirte. Field hospital. A wounded man is carried into the helicopter to be taken to hospital in Tripoli.
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  • Call for respect for human life

    Syria: ICRC calls for respect for human life. Interview head of operations for the Near and Middle East, April 2011.
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