Humanitarian access in Libya must be priority of London Summit
As high-level diplomats and UN representatives gather in London to discuss the situation in Libya, the International Rescue Committee is urging participants to put the issue of humanitarian access ‘firmly on the table’ of today’s talks.
“We’re gravely concerned about the conditions of civilians in areas of heavy fighting,” says Carolyn Makinson, chief executive of IRC UK. “The situation could easily deteriorate into a humanitarian emergency.”
An estimated 350,000 people have fled Libya into Egypt and Tunisia. The vast majority of those fleeing have been foreign workers. Only about 3,000 are Libyan nationals. There are reports of tens of thousands of internally displaced people as a result of intense fighting in urban areas, and their situation remains unclear.
“After 10 days of coalition airstrikes and over a month of civil unrest, the impact of the conflict on civilians is still one of the great unknowns of this war,” says Makinson. “With fighting intensifying in densely populated areas and a battleground constantly shifting, we are extremely concerned about the increasing loss of lives and the potential for further displacement.”
Makinson says it is crucial that aid agencies are allowed in to assess the humanitarian situation and start relief work where needed.
“The security of civilians and the issue of humanitarian access must be firmly on the table of today’s conference on Libya,” says Makinson.
The International Rescue Committee deployed teams to Tunisia and Egypt at the outset of the crisis to assist those fleeing and is ready to provide assistance to people inside Libya when security permits. The IRC plans to focus on restoring market systems and livelihoods and ensuring that people have access to needed goods and services.
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