The United States supports the Libyan people’s desire for legitimate reforms and a peaceful political transition. Unfortunately, the Qadhafi regime has responded to the people’s democratic aspirations with repression and violence, employing deadly and indiscriminate force against civilians and civilian populated areas. Following Qadhafi’s first brutal attacks on Libyan civilians, the United States, along with the international community, mobilized a broad coalition, secured an international mandate to protect civilians, stopped Qadhafi’s advance on Benghazi, prevented a humanitarian catastrophe, and established a no-fly zone and arms embargo. We also implemented our own unilateral response – including sanctions – to the Qadhafi regime’s atrocities. As part of the NATO-led coalition, the United States continues to provide critical support the mission to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas in Libya.
Engaging and Assisting the Opposition
We have engaged the Libyan opposition, appointing an envoy to Benghazi, who has met regularly with members of the Transitional National Council (TNC) and emerging civil society groups.
We welcome the TNC’s clear statements noting its intent to respect the Geneva Conventions, respect for human rights, and repudiation of terrorism; we continue to do our best to monitor the human rights situation in all parts of Libya. We believe the TNC continues to serve as a credible and legitimate interlocutor for the opposition and the Libyan people.
The President directed up to $25 million in transfers of non-lethal items from U.S. Government stocks, and the transportation of these items. These items include medical equipment, protective vests, and binoculars. The first shipment, which included 10,000 cases of Halal Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), arrived in Benghazi on May 10. We are continuing to review and assess options for the types of assistance we could provide to the Libyan people.
Addressing Humanitarian Needs
The United States has provided $53.5 million to date to meet humanitarian needs inside and on the borders of Libya.
With United States Government funding, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) has worked to streamline the delivery of medicines and supplies to besieged cities in western Libya and establish medical training centers in eastern Libya to train volunteers in first aid and transport of critically injured individuals. Our funding also supports humanitarian coordination activities and an air service to provide vital international transport of staff and supplies into Benghazi. In addition, several U.S.-funded Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are actively providing assistance inside Libya, reaching besieged cities with emergency relief commodities and medical supplies and personnel.
The U.S. Government also has provided funding to facilitate the critical efforts of organizations such as International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), including evacuating and repatriating third-country nationals and meeting the needs of refugees in Tunisia and Egypt
In addition, a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is working closely with host governments, the United Nations, NGOs, and other international partners to assess and address urgent humanitarian needs in Libya and neighboring countries
Lastly, the DART is coordinating with other donors on the ground to look at key transition needs, including participating in the United Kingdom led assessment team.