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MEMO/11/260

Brussels, 27 April 2011

Statement by Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Misrata, Libya

"The shelling of Misrata seaport over the past day has moved a volatile humanitarian situation from bad to worse. I am very worried that the thin humanitarian lifeline that humanitarian partner organisations had managed to establish through the Misrata seaport will break due to the ongoing fierce fighting.

The port shelling hampers vessel rotation and therefore hinders further evacuations. The delivery of food, medical supplies and other relief items has been interrupted, and it is close to impossible for our humanitarian partners to evacuate the wounded and civilians by sea. We are receiving reports of hospitals being overwhelmed by a growing number of wounded.

I appeal to all sides in this conflict to protect civilians and to allow humanitarian operations in Misrata to resume. The shelling of Misrata seaport and the fighting in areas of the town where civilians seek protection must stop as a matter of urgency.

We at the European Commission want to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the Libyans and Third Country Nationals in the country in an impartial way, in the spirit of compassion and with the resources of our humanitarian partners. The Commission, together with the Member States of the European Union, has mobilised massive funding and transportation assets worth more than €100 million to address pressing humanitarian needs and to prevent a further deterioration of the humanitarian emergency. We stand ready to do more, but for our help to be meaningful, access to the people who need it is paramount."

BACKGROUND:

The Libyan city of Misrata has been a focal point for Libyans and TCNs fleeing the conflict across Libya, but on 26 April it also turned into a target for regime forces. This has challenged the work of humanitarian actors that, in the past two weeks, have been delivering relief and repatriating foreigners through the Misrata port. During the month of April, 30 ships have been able to dock at the port in order to provide humanitarian assistance and to evacuate more than 10,000 third country nationals. The European Commission has contributed to this operation through its partnership with the International Organisation for Migration. European assistance allowed for the evacuation of around 2100 TCNs to Benghazi. The Commission has provided humanitarian aid in Misrata through several other partners in the Red Cross family.

Humanitarian access the rest of Libya is also limited or impossible due to heavy fighting, particularly around the besieged towns in the West of Libya such as Zintan, Nalut, Zawiyah and Yifran.

As of today, the European Union (Commission and Member States) has contributed €100.281.334 to assist civilians entangled in the Libyan crisis. The funding of the European Commission covers humanitarian assistance to the people fleeing Libya, support to the repatriation of TCNs to their countries of origin, and the prepositioning of emergency stocks to provide relief aid inside Libya.


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