North Africa Humanitarian Situation
Responding to the Libya Crisis
In February 2011, anti-government protests erupted in Libya and soon turned violent. The conflict has since increased and triggered a massive outflow of people to neighbouring countries, especially Tunisia to the west and Egypt to the east. By late August, some 656,000 people had fled from Libya, mostly migrant workers from Egypt and Tunisia but including many more nationalities.
The UN refugee agency swiftly responded to this emergency, sending teams to both Egypt and Tunisia. Staff at the UNHCR office in the Libyan capital of Tripoli have continued to work to help a caseload of around 8,000 refugees and 3,000 asylum-seekers, some of whom are now in Tunisia and Egypt. UNHCR has also established a presence in Benghazi and Tobruk in the east of the country.
UNHCR has airlifted tonnes of aid, including tents for thousands of people at the borders and items such as kitchen sets, blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and tarpaulins. In August, UNHCR launched a Libya Ramadan initiative, providing hundreds of people in Benghazi with their evening meal during the Islamic month of fasting. In western Libya, UNHCR trucked in food while food packages have been distributed for 55,000 Libyans in southern Tunisia.
At the request of the Tunisian government, UNHCR and its partners have set up a number of camps close to the Ras Adjir border post and in Tataouine province. At the end of August, more than 4,000 refugees and asylum-seekers were being hosted in three camps near the Ras Adjir crossing. Further south, tens of thousands of Libyans, mainly of Berber ethnicity, have fled the Western Mountains and found shelter in Tunisia. Several hundred are in two camps in Remada and Tataouine, but the vast majority are being hosted by local families. UNHCR has registered almost 60,000 Libyan refugees (11,830 families) in southern Tunisia's five main provinces. In parallel, UNHCR has distributed ration cards to Libyan refugees in urban areas throughout Tunisia.
Early in the crisis, a huge number of migrant workers fled to Tunisia and Egypt. To help these people and to decongest the border area, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on March 1 launched a joint humanitarian evacuation operation. This initiative, together with air and sea evacuations organized by individual governments, dramatically relieved the overcrowding at the borders. As of late August, more than 144,000 people had been repatriated by UNHCR and the IOM, while hundreds of thousands more have returned home with the help of their governments.
High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has visited Tunisia twice and Egypt once since the conflict began. The first time he was with IOM Director-General William Swing to assess the situation and thank the governments for hosting so many people.
UNHCR Hotline numbers:
Land line:+218-21-4777503 (24 hours)
Mobile:+218-92-552-3671 (9:00 to 14:00 hours)
+41 22 739 8618
+41 22 739 7484
- UNHCR Southern Tunisia Weekly Update (1 August 2011 - Issue 2)
- Update No.30 on the humanitarian situation in Libya and the neighbouring countries
- Update No.29 on the humanitarian situation in Libya and the neighbouring countries
- Update No.28 on the humanitarian situation in Libya and the neighbouring countries
- Update No.27 on the humanitarian situation in Libya and the neighbouring countries
- Revision to UNHCR Supplementary Budget: The Libya Situation 2011 - July 2011
- Regional Flash Appeal for the Libyan Crisis 2011 (May 2011)
- Regional Flash Appeal for the Libyan Crisis 2011 - Update - 1 April 2011
- Revision to the UNHCR Supplementary Budget: The Libya Situation 2011 - 29 March 2011
- Regional Flash Appeal for the Libyan Crisis 2011 - March 2011