U.S. NGOs Urge Calm in Libya, Safe Access

Mar 01, 2011, 17:44 ET from InterAction

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs, called on Tuesday for the safe passage of humanitarian workers and medical supplies into Libya, particularly in the west of the country where access and information are currently very limited.

The security situation in Libya remains serious and many civilians have been affected by the violence, which first erupted last month as demonstrators took to the streets to demand that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi step down.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers have already left Libya and many more are still trying to get back to their countries of origin, either via land, boat or air. InterAction is particularly concerned over the safety of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who are vulnerable due to their tenuous legal status and perceived links to African mercenaries employed by the Libyan leader.

"We appeal to the Libyan authorities to allow safe passage of humanitarian supplies and workers into Libya if that is needed. We also urge neighboring countries Egypt, Tunisia and Niger to continue doing all they can to help those migrant workers and civilians who have fled Libya," said Samuel A. Worthington, president of InterAction.

"Reports of civilian deaths and injuries inside Libya are alarming and we urge all sides to respect human rights and not use excessive force. African migrants are a particularly vulnerable group in the conflict," added Worthington.

Information remains scant over exactly what is happening inside the country, and a humanitarian needs assessment still has to be done before the full scale of the crisis is known. As of March 1, 2011, the east of the country was under the control of the opposition and Tripoli and the west of Libya remain under the control of the Gadhafi regime.

Some of InterAction's members have been deploying staff to border areas to both help with those fleeing the violence and to be well-positioned to enter Libya if their presence is feasible and becomes necessary. A list of our members who are responding to the crisis in Libya is available on our web page. http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/interaction-members-respond-crisis-libya

InterAction, with more than 190 members, is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs doing relief and development work abroad.

SOURCE InterAction