Friday, March 11, 2011

US Evacuates Refugees and How to Help in the Libyan Crisis

According to the US Embassy in Tunisia, two C-130 military transport planes landed in Djerba, Tunisia on March 4 delivering humanitarian supplies from the U.S. Government.  Each aircraft carried three pallets of aid supplies, which included 2,000 blankets, 40 rolls of plastic sheeting, and 9,600 10-liter water containers.  These humanitarian relief supplies, sufficient for up to 2,000 beneficiaries, were given to the Tunisia Red Crescent for distribution.

On March 5, two U.S. Marine KC-130 aircraft and two additional U.S. Air Force C-130s flew missions from Djerba to Cairo, returning a total of 312 Egyptian nationals to their home country.   On March 6, four additional flights repatriated another 328 Egyptian nationals, for a total of 640 repatriated over the weekend.

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Photos from US Air Force/Flickr
{additional photos available here}

The United States has also provided the following assistance to IOM, UNCHR and the ICRC:
  • $13 million to IOM to support the transportation of thousands people from Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia who fled Libya and are now in Tunisia and Egypt.
  • $7 million to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is working in both Tunisia and Egypt, including managing the transit center in Tunisia near the Tunisia-Libya border that is currently providing basic services to thousands of migrants; and
  • $7 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assist their efforts in meeting humanitarian needs in Tunisia arising from the unrest and armed confrontations in Libya.  This work includes medical and surgical care and other emergency needs such as water and sanitation.
ACT Alliance which has a correspondent in Tunisia reports that around 15,000 people, most of them migrant workers, are currently living in the Sousha refugee camp, which lies inside Tunisia, close to the border with north-western Libya, where pro-Gaddafi forces have control. "The UN estimates that around half a million refugees may cross the border from Libya. As the conflict deepens, this number could increase to a million. If today's situation is an indicator of things to come, the majority of these refugees will be young male migrant workers." 

If you want to help, USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, warehouse space, etc.); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance. More information can be found at:

USAID: disaster assistance page

The Center for International Disaster Information: or (703) 276-1914

Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at

Guide to Humanitarian Giving: The Libya Crisis {United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)}

Relief Web | Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Page

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