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Libya Crisis: Waiting on the border

I’ve been working on Save the Children’s response to the ongoing conflict in Libya for over a month now. First based in Cairo, supporting our team going in over the Egyptian border on the eastern side, and now I’ve crossed over to the western side on the Tunisian border. The situation in Libya remains extremely insecure — so much so that it’s too dangerous for us to get in and assist people in the west of the country. But we’re preparing and waiting to get in and help as soon as we can.

Save the Children’s team on the eastern side is already in Libya, setting up a base in Benghazi. We’re finding out what children and their families need most, and preparing to ship in and distribute essential supplies. We’re hearing reports from towns such as Ajdabiya, Brega and Misrata, which have been the focus of intense fighting between Gaddafi’s forces and opposition fighters, that supplies of water, food and medical supplies are running dangerously low. So we’re hugely concerned for children stuck in these towns.

Save havens for children amid the chaos

Here on the Tunisian border, Save the Children is running safe spaces for children in camps that are host to people fleeing the violence. The people in these camps aren’t Libyans but migrant workers who’ve escaped either alone or with their families and children. It’s an incredibly unique situation — as of 1 April there were people from 29 different countries in the camps — from Zimbabwe to Pakistan to Jordan to Togo — and right now the largest groups are from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Chad. There are 10,000 people in the camps, including 335 children.

Every day more people cross the border. For now it’s a steady stream — around 2,000 to 3,000 each day. Some have a short wait in the camps before being flown back to their country of origin. But those from Eritrea, Iraq, Palestine and Somalia can’t go back home because of fighting in their own countries. They’ll be staying here for a long time yet and won’t know when they can move on, or where they will go when they do…

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