Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric P. Schwartz and USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg are traveling in Tunisia from March 8-10, to review the humanitarian relief efforts to assist those fleeing the Libyan conflict.
Since Libya's civil unrest began in February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 200,000 third-country nationals have fled from the violence into Tunisia and Egypt. The United States is deeply engaged in the international effort -- which includes other countries, international organizations (IOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) -- to respond, and is providing $30 million for the humanitarian needs of conflict victims, vulnerable migrants, and others displaced by the increasing civil unrest in Libya. These funds support repatriation of third-country nationals and provision of emergency relief supplies along the borders as well as inside Libya. In addition, a humanitarian assessment team of 14 U.S. disaster response experts has been deployed to multiple locations in the region, and is coordinating humanitarian assistance to reach these victims of conflict as quickly as possible.
In Tunisia today, Assistant Secretary Schwartz said, "The United States thus far has provided 30 million dollars' worth of, committed to 30 million dollars' worth of support and we will do more and U.S. specialists are on the ground here, the U.S. military has helped to move people from here to Egypt and we are very dedicated to helping others who are trying to ease the situation here."
He continued, "I think our mission is a humanitarian mission, we're here to take a look at the efforts that are being made, to deal with this very large movement of people, to provide them with basic assistance, to provide them with what they need to get to their homes, and so our focus really here is on making sure that we can do everything we can to help the government of Tunisia and the Tunisian people, the international organizations that are playing such an important role."
Assistant Secretary Schwartz and USAID Assistant Administrator Lindborg will continue on travel to Egypt March 10-12, 2011.