Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

Libya: Thousands need help following tribal clashes in Nafusa mountains

Publisher International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Publication Date 7 March 2013
Cite as International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Libya: Thousands need help following tribal clashes in Nafusa mountains, 7 March 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5139cddf2.html [accessed 29 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

It's morning and a 70-year-old Syrian man stands outside the UNHCR building in Amman among hundreds of other asylum-seekers. His trousers are dirty. His black shoes, covered in dust, are falling apart. His hands shake uncontrollably, bouncing off his frayed coffee-coloured sweater. His 60-year-old wife helps to keep him standing. A hijab (veil) covers her head.

Heba Azazieh, a senior field associate, sees the couple. At first she thinks the man is suffering from the morning cold, but she soon learns that he's shaking because of the terrible violence he has seen. "May God protect your ears from what we will tell you," the woman says.

She recalls that when the Syrian conflict began in March 2011 tanks rolled through the streets of their home city of Homs. Snipers set up position on rooftops, sending the old man into a fit of convulsive fear. Neighbours said it was not safe to stay and the couple fled, hoping to return in a few days. "We left with the clothes on our back," the old man tells the attentive Azazieh.

Their money was consumed in no time. Three days later, they called their neighbours who told them that armed men had taken over their home. Shells had obliterated the verandah. Everything was lost.

And now they're in real need of help: the old man's UNHCR registration papers are out of date; the local pharmacy will no longer provide him with the medicine that controls his shaking; and there is a problem accessing his monthly cash grant of US$140 from UNHCR. For some reason he can't withdraw money using the ATM card he was given, and it is this cash that keeps them alive.

Over the past three days, thousands of people have been displaced by tribal clashes in Libya's Nafusa mountains. In cooperation with the Libyan Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is delivering food, medicines and other essential aid to more than 3,000 people who fled their homes to seek refuge in nearby towns.

The clashes started on 2 March in the town of Mizdah, 180 kilometres south of Tripoli. "Some of the displaced are living in difficult conditions, as they have taken shelter in unfinished buildings," said the ICRC's Asma Khalik Awan, in charge of distributing the aid.

Over the past three days, one-month food rations have been provided for 750 people in Garyat, some 140 kilometres south of Mizdah, and Nismah, 50 kilometres south of the town. "Today, 2,500 others will receive food, blankets, kitchen sets, and other basic items," said Ms Khalik Awan.

The ICRC has also provided the clinic in Mizdah with enough wound-dressing materials to treat up to 50 injured patients. The clinic administers first aid to victims before transferring them to a larger facility. Today, ICRC staff and Libyan Red Crescent volunteers will assess the medical situation in Ghrayan and Shqeiqa, situated 85 kilometres and 30 kilometres north of Mizdah, respectively. Other volunteers from the Libyan Red Crescent are helping the ICRC in Nismah, Garyat and Mizdah.

In Libya, the ICRC visits detainees, helps clarify the fate of missing persons and works with the Libyan Red Crescent to help people injured or displaced by violence. It also promotes greater awareness of the rules of international humanitarian law among the authorities, and helps make sure these rules are taken into account in training provided for the Libyan army and security forces.

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