Brussels, 3 March 2011
EU ups its response to Libya’s humanitarian crisis as Commission and Hungarian presidency visit Tunisia-Libya border
The European Union continues its swift response to the growing humanitarian crisis, caused by the continuing violence in Libya. From the border between Libya and Tunisia, where the humanitarian situation is compounded by the massive flow of people fleeing Libya, Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and Hungarian Minister of State for EU affairs Enikő Győri called on Member States to step up their efforts to provide urgent relief to the stranded refugees and to facilitate their passage home. During their visit, Kristalina Georgieva announced that the Commission will triple its aid: 30 million EUR will be provided to cater for the humanitarian needs, up from the 10 million EUR that was allocated earlier this week.
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and Enikő Győri, Hungary’s Minister of State for EU affairs, made the following joint statement: "The unleashing of violence in Libya has triggered a major humanitarian crisis at Europe’s doorstep. Europe’s values and interests command us to act decisively and this is what we are doing. Europe has mobilised itself not only to evacuate EU citizens in a coordinated and speedy manner, but also to address the dire needs of people suffering - whether refugees fleeing Libya or those trapped by conflict inside the country".
They added: “Today we call upon Member States to carry on this momentum by participating actively in the joint effort to bring home the thousands refugees stranded at the Tunisian border, and by providing immediate relief”.
Enikő Győri said also: “In our capacity as Presidency of the Council, we ensure that the European presence in Libya continues. The Hungarian ambassador to Libya is staying deployed to coordinate European action on the ground”.
During their visit to the border, Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announced a new surge in the Commission’s support for the growing humanitarian needs in the region: up to 30 million EUR. This is the third allocation that the European Commission makes for the Libyan crisis in less than a week - last Friday, the Commission took an emergency decision for 3 million EUR, which was boosted to 10 million EUR on Wednesday.
In addition to supporting the evacuations, part of the European funding will be used to cater for the most urgent needs of people crossing the Libyan borders: tents and food, blankets and medical aid. Relief operations will be implemented and coordinated with the European Commission's humanitarian partners that are already working on the Libyan borders: the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC), the Tunisian Red Crescent, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and European non-governmental organizations. Other humanitarian needs that may arise, including inside Libya where the situation is still difficult to assess, will also be provided through this EU support.
Experts from the European Commission’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO) have just arrived in Libya and working on a first assessment of the humanitarian situation. For a week now, several other humanitarian and civil protection teams of the European Commission are working on the borders of Libya with Tunisia and Egypt. They are analysing the evolving humanitarian needs and coordinating with partner organisations.
On February 23, following a request from the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and the Hungarian Presidency, the European Commission activated the Civil Protection Mechanism, which is currently facilitating the evacuation of EU citizens and other foreigners from Libya.
For more information:
Activation of the Monitoring and Information Centre to support evacuations from Libya:
Commissioner Georgieva's website:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid: