An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., has announced €1 million of Irish Aid funding at an emergency summit of EU leaders in Brussels. The Summit was called in response to the deaths of up to 800 people off the coast of Libya last weekend.
The funding will be provided to the International Committee of the Red Cross to respond to the continuing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Libya. Due to increasing attacks on international organisations, the ICRC is one of a small number of partners that are able to operate in Libya. Despite being forced to relocate its international staff to Tunis in 2014, the ICRC continues its work through 130 locally-based staff, in cooperation with the Libyan Red Crescent and other local partners.
The situation in Libya is extremely unstable, with two rival factions claiming to be the legitimate government, numerous armed militias, and mass attacks being carried out. The UN estimates that approximately 400,000 people have been displaced in the country since May 2014, while the Libyan Red Crescent Society estimates that there could be more than 500,000 Internally Displaced Persons in Libya today, including nearly 72,000 displaced since 2011.
The city of Benghazi has witnessed the largest displacement since the current crisis escalated mid-2014, with about 100,000 persons reportedly fleeing violence in that area. The health service in Libya is under particular strain, with a shortage of medical staff and medical supplies. Migration on the ‘central Mediterranean’ route to Italy has increased dramatically since 2012, with thousands attempting to flee the crisis, often with deadly consequences.
The Irish Aid funding will support the ICRC in providing medical supplies and training to hospitals, and food and essential household items to those displaced. It is part of a range of measures proposed by the Irish Government in the response to the tragic deaths of those fleeing Libya last weekend.