Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Reuben Brigety and USAID Director of Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance Mark Bartolini provided an update on current U.S. humanitarian assistance efforts in Libya on April 25, 2011.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Brigety said, "The United States Government continues to provide aid to the people of Libya. To date, we've committed $47 million toward humanitarian assistance. There have been some optimistic changes over the last two or three days, but conditions continue to be difficult to assess in many areas due to security.
"In Misrata, as you've heard, there's been some pullback of forces; however, there's still intense shelling of the city. And you've seen the reports that 32 people were killed on Saturday and 8 people were killed on Sunday. We don't have verification of those numbers, but we know that shelling is continuing.
"In general, conditions in the east, around the Benghazi area, are remaining stable. There's not significant humanitarian needs there; however, we are doing a significant amount of pre-positioning and we've been working with a number of partners, both international organizations and nongovernmental organization partners, for about a month now in terms of trying to build capacity of organizations that heretofore have not experience operating in Libya.
"In the west, we have some significant concerns, and we have, again, sort of limited visibility in some areas due to security issues. But some of our partners are getting in periodically and delivering aid. And that's also, as you know from press reports, been the case in Misrata as well. The International Committee of the Red Cross, IOM has been taking third-country nationals out of the port. We estimate right now there are approximately 2,000 remaining in the port, between 1,500 and 2,000, and IOM is continuing -- is planning on doing another trip in to remove those people, evacuate those people.
"We know there are some medical needs in Misrata, in particular doctors who are operating in these surgical theaters are quite exhausted, so we're rotating doctors with some of our partners, bringing in their staff. And there are ongoing medical needs. We continue to, however, get supplies in. One of the problems is that we've had to move around medical supplies and food supplies in Misrata because of attacks by pro-government forces and there's been some logistics issues around that. So we are, also through our partners, providing some logistical support to try to better facilitate that.
"One other issue that I'll mention is that we're pleased to announce today that the first shipment of Food for Peace, Title II food, arrived in Alexandria today. And that will be, through WFP's logistical supply routes in the region, be deployed to -- pre-deployed to certain areas in and around Libya."
USAID Director Bartolini followed Deputy Assistant Secretary Brigety. He said, "Since the beginning of the conflict, there has been a substantial and, frankly, slightly unusual displacement of people across the six borders that surround Libya. Some 550,000 people have fled Libya as of April 24th. The nature of that population is slightly unusual from a typical humanitarian crisis in that most of the people who are leaving Libya are not actually nationals of Libya. So what you have are people that are third-country nationals leaving a country that is not their home, going to another country that is not their home.
"And as a result of this substantial outflow, the international community, organized through the International Organization of Migration and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, launched a substantial humanitarian air bridge, as it were, to help evacuate many tens of thousands of these people back to their home countries. That process continues. This is one of the largest international humanitarian airlifts in history. The current outflow of people as of today is about 5,000 people, again, across the majority of those six borders. The majority of those 5,000 are coming across into Tunisia and into Egypt.
"The U.S. Government has committed some $47 million worth of assistance to Libya thus far: $13 million to the International Organization of Migration to support the humanitarian air evacuation; $10 million to the World Food Program for various food operations; another $7 million to UNHCR mainly to support the camp populations, mostly in Tunisia and Egypt, of third-country migrants, another $7 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross; and then another $10 million to support NGOs as needed."
You can read the complete remarks from the special briefing here.