accessibility & help

British aid workers help Libyan refugees

7 March 2011

Two British Red Cross workers were deployed to Tunisia on 5 March to help with the growing aid effort for refugees fleeing ongoing clashes in Libya.

Logistics experts Melanie McNeill, 29, from London, and Mike Barcroft, 61, from Kent, are working at the airport in Djerba. They are helping to process the delivery of emergency aid as it arrives and ensure it gets to the people that need it as quickly as possible.

Refugees on the road fleeing from Libya© InfoKaty Attfield, British Red Cross head of disaster managment, said: “Tens of thousands of people are flooding across the border. There are huge needs and this is a very real humanitarian emergency. Many have arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. They need the basics for survival: shelter, food, clean water and sanitation.”

Emergency relief

The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has been on the ground helping people since the unrest began, and is scaling up its response. On the Libyan/Tunisian border, it is providing food and shelter, has set up a health centre and is helping people who have fled contact their families to let them know they are safe.

As well as deploying Melanie and Mike, the British Red Cross is supplying thousands of blankets, tarpaulins, jerry cans, and kitchen sets, as well as a hundred latrines.

In Libya, local Red Crescent volunteers are providing first aid and blood bank services, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has 16 emergency specialists, including doctors and nurses, working in the east of the country.

On 6 March, two ICRC medical teams joined Libyan medical and surgical teams in the cities of Benghazi and Ajdabya, where they are treating people wounded in the fighting. Also on 6 March, the ICRC, with the co-operation of the Libyan Red Crescent, sent enough surgical supplies and equipment to treat 100 injured people in the west of the country.

International humanitarian law

On 3 March two Libyan Red Crescent ambulances came under fire in the city of Misrata, resulting in two volunteers being injured. One of the ambulances was completely burnt out.

"We deplore the fact that Red Crescent volunteers have come under fire. This is quite simply unacceptable," said the ICRC's director general, Yves Daccord. "Humanitarian workers must be allowed to carry out their work, and patients must be given safe access to medical care."

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