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Three weeks of constant fighting in southern Libya is having a major impact on the civilian population as well as foreign migrant workers and asylum seekers who are stranded there. As one of few international organisations with a presence in the area, Danish Refugee Council now raises its voice in concern.
Civilians in the southern Libyan city of Sabha have been caught up in armed violence since January 9th, which has resulted in dozens of deaths and many wounded.
"The continuing fighting means that people are afraid to go out onto the streets, shops are closed, household supplies are running low, children cannot go to school and medical facilities are under severe strain having to treat the many wounded with inadequate medical supplies. In addition to this, the heavy and prolonged fighting will result in the threat of unexploded ordnance in the area," says Nigel Clarke, DRCs Country Director for Libya.
Some parts of the city have been evacuated, with residents taking shelter with relatives in other parts of the city or leaving for other towns. However thousands of irregular migrants and asylum seekers from other countries have nowhere to go.
"We are deeply concerned for the safety of civilians in Sabha. The population is exhausted and it is critical that the situation is stabilised so that relief supplies can get in and essential services can resume," says Nigel Clarke.
During the last three weeks, DRC staff has been monitoring the situation on a daily basis, assessing needs through networking with other local actors and planning a humanitarian response once it is safe to move around again in the city. We are also concerned for the safety of our national staff and their families, some of whom have been living under bombardment.
With funding from the European Commission and the British Government, DRC has been working with local authorities and civil society organisations to conduct mine risk education, provide training, renovate public buildings and facilities, sensitize youths about the risks of armed violence and protect vulnerable persons including asylum seekers.