Libya: Timeline of key events since February 2011

News and Press Release
Originally published

NAIROBI, 8 April 2011 (IRIN) - The crisis in Libya began in mid-February and has since led to deaths, injuries and the displacement of thousands. Nearly half a million people, including many third-country nationals who were working in Libya, have left the country. Some are still stranded [ ] at border points. Here is a timeline of some key events since February:

15 February - Riots in Benghazi triggered by the arrest of a human rights activist. The riots soon turn into a fight against government forces, with protesters demanding Col Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for 41 years, step down.

24 February - Anti-government forces take control of Misrata after evicting forces loyal to Gaddafi.

27 February - UN Security Council passes Resolution 1970, imposing sanctions on Gaddafi and his family and refers the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court. Next day, EU governments approve a package of sanctions against Gaddafi and his closest advisers, including an arms embargo and travel bans.

1 March - UN General Assembly suspends Libya's membership of the Human Rights Council. Aid agencies report that at least 147,000 people have fled across Libya's borders. More are on the move.

5 March - The Libyan National Council meets in Benghazi and declares itself sole representative of Libya. Gaddafi's forces continue to fight in other areas.

6 March - Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Jordan Abdelileh Al-Khatib appointed UN special envoy to Libya. Next day, a regional Flash Appeal for the Libyan crisis is launched by aid agencies. Foreign workers continue leaving Libya.

9 March - Over 100 physicians with medical supplies deployed in eastern Libya by the Arab Medical Union. Access to western Libya remains a problem.

10 March - Forces loyal to Gaddafi bomb the oil town of Brega and take back control of Zawiyah, about 50km west of Tripoli. France recognizes the opposition Libyan National Council (the opposition to Gaddafi) as the legitimate representative of Libya's people.

12 March - The Arab League calls for a UN no-fly zone over Libya to deter the bombardment of civilian targets by government forces.

15 March - Tunisia's Ministry of Public Health, supported by WHO, UNICEF and other health partners, start a vaccination campaign for an estimated 100 under-five children currently residing in Choucha transit camp [ ] on the Tunisia-Libya border.

17 March - The UN Security Council votes on Resolution 1973, which authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians against government forces.

18 March - Reports of a critical shortage of medical personnel in Benghazi particularly as majority were migrant workers who have now left Libya. Next day, coalition air strikes on Libyan government forces start.

20 March - Libya declares a ceasefire, but fighting continues amid rising concerns for the safety of civilians in conflict areas. Next day, Gaddafi tells supporters he will not surrender and asks them to form a human shield to protect him at his Tripoli compound.

24 March - NATO says it will enforce the no-fly zone but stops short of taking full command of UN-mandated military operations to protect civilians. Continuing hostilities, particularly in Misrata, Ajdabiya and Zintan.

25 March - Report from eastern Libya of increased internal displacement including estimates that up to 25,000 people have been displaced.

28 March - Qatar becomes the first Arab country to recognize Libya's opposition as the people's legitimate representative. Over 50 anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines discovered near power pylons outside Ajdabiya town.

29 March - Shortages of nursing staff, surgical equipment and water, particularly in eastern towns of Ajdabiya, Brega and Albethnan reported. Aid workers demand access to millions of Libyans trapped behind battle lines. "Tell them please, please have a ceasefire," Muftah Etwild, director of international relations of the Libya Red Crescent, tells IRIN.

31 March - Handicap International sends a team to Libya in response to concerns over risks to populations from the use of landmines and unexploded ordnance in recent fighting.

3 April - Warplanes fly over Brega as anti-government forces fight government troops for control of Brega. Government forces attack the towns of Zintan and Yafran. Some 213 people reported drowned in the sea after leaving Libya for Italy.

4 April - Italy recognizes Libyan rebels.

5 April - Turkish medical aid ship arrives in Turkey with injured Libyans from Misrata where fighting continues. Up to 13,600 people remain stranded at camps and transit points on the border with Libya.

6 April - WFP moves more than 1,500 tons of food into eastern Libya, enough to feed more than 100,000 people for a month. ICRC warns that the abundance of weaponry represents a major hazard for the country's civilian population.

Sources: hh/eo/cb