Red Cross Provides Humanitarian Assistance in North Africa

Mar 02, 2011, 18:00 ET from American Red Cross

American Red Cross sends $100,000 and staff to assist people fleeing Libya

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross has sent a special team to Tunisia and pledged financial assistance to assist its partners within the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network, who are providing humanitarian assistance along the Libyan border for those escaping the country's unrest.

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Local authorities estimate that from February 20 until today, nearly 82,000 migrants have arrived in Tunisia. While more continued to arrive throughout the evening, approximately 6,000 reportedly passed through the border today alone.

"Thousands upon thousands of desperate people are pressed tightly together forming a wall that extends more than 1,600 feet – almost the length of five football fields," said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services with the American Red Cross. "Hundreds have been injured in the chaotic crush, families are sleeping in the rain without cover over head, and the young and old are in need of food and water."

With make-shift camps at their saturation point, authorities are overwhelmed and only allowing people to come through in groups of one or two, which creates a significant bottleneck.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) along with the Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian Red Crescent societies and other Red Cross partners have sent doctors and other staff to the borders amidst growing concerns of deteriorating conditions. In addition to contributing $100,000 from its International Response Fund to the ICRC, the American Red Cross also deployed two, highly-skilled disaster specialists from Virginia to Tunisia late yesterday.

Working around the clock, Red Cross and Red Crescent responders are providing critical first aid as well as shelter and relief supplies to the refugees as they take their first steps on Tunisian soil. Included in these distributions are blankets, carpets, tents and heating oil.

The Tunisian Red Crescent has also collected blood to support the escalating medical needs. In recent days, approximately 750 people fleeing Libya's civil unrest have also relied on the Red Cross to help notify their families that they are safe across the country line in Tunisia.  

"As the situation evolves, the American Red Cross remains in daily communication with its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners in the region and stands ready to provide additional assistance, if needed," said Meltzer. "This is a chaotic time in the region, but when people see a Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem they know neutral humanitarian aid is near."

The American Red Cross is grateful to have the public's support. Assistance provided by the American Red Cross may include deploying relief workers, contributing emergency supplies and providing financial assistance. 

To make a donation, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific crisis, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other crises. 

SOURCE American Red Cross



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