London, UK, April 8, 2019 — The escalating conflict in Tripoli has so far claimed the lives of 21 people, including two medical staff who were supporting field hospitals. The International Rescue Committee calls for an end to hostilities and an urgent political solution to the crisis prioritising the welfare of Libyan citizens and non-Libyan people.
Prior to this escalation of violence, almost one million people in Libya were in need of humanitarian assistance. After this escalation the numbers are going to rise. European and African leaders must support a peaceful process and ensure everyone is safe from harm.
Thomas Garofalo, Country Director for IRC Libya said:
“As clashes continue, the next two to three days in Tripoli could define Libya’s future for the coming years. Libyans and non-Libyans in Tripoli are in the midst of increasing hostilities between heavily armed groups. Any further escalation in violence will likely see significant displacement as civilians try to flee the fighting. It is vital that the European countries step up their efforts to protect those fleeing the violence, including by addressing policies that put vulnerable people at risk such as allowing arbitrary detention and the withdrawal of search and rescue efforts on the Mediterranean.”
Around 97,000 people are already displaced in Libya and in Tripoli we are witnessing the highest number of people in need. This number might drastically increase due to the active violence on the ground that has disrupted travel and reliable communication channels. For refugees and migrants living in detention centers, this is even worse as they are relying on others to get access to life-saving services.
The International Rescue Committee is working closely with Libyan authorities to provide health and protection services to people most in need. Shelters for displaced people and households that include children and minors lack basic and dignified conditions, such as electricity, running water, or heating. The situation is even worse for migrants and refugees stranded in detention centers, often overcrowded and without no access to basic services.
Since 2016, the International Rescue Committee has been providing protection services and support for survivors of violence, particularly to women and girls who need psychological support to overcome the trauma they have faced. The organisation is assisting the Libyan authorities in strengthening the national healthcare systems and providing direct medical services through a Community Development Centre and primary health clinics where we are providing equipment, maternal and pediatric support, mental health care, vaccinations and treating infectious diseases.
While Tripoli teeters on the brink, Foreign Ministers from across Europe are meeting for the EU Foreign Affairs Council. This emergency must be foremost in their minds. Only by concerted and united diplomatic efforts will they help prevent a further escalation in violence in what is already an extremely precarious situation.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.