As a result of the recent and ongoing fighting in Libya, unexploded weapons left from the conflict are a major hazard for the country's civilian population. Unexploded ordnance and armoured vehicles, including rockets, shells and mortars, are strewn across public places and residential areas in Misrata, Ajdabiya and Benghazi. The risk for civilians is high.
Today the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) evacuated more than 600 civilians from the city in western Libya. This was the fourth rotation of an ICRC-chartered boat to evacuate mainly foreign nationals stranded in dire conditions. In total the ICRC evacuated more than 2300 civilians mainly from Niger, Chad, Mali, Ghana, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, and Morocco, in addition to Libyan nationals.
At a press conference in Geneva (31.03.11), ICRC head of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl said that the situation in Cote d'Ivoire now amounted to an internal armed conflict, causing thousands of casualties and widespread displacements of population.
In response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya, two cargo planes have been loaded with 16 tonnes of medical supplies, including surgical equipment, dressing kits and drugs. The planes are due to take off from Geneva, Switzerland, late Friday night (25 February), one bound for Cairo, the other for Tunis. The ICRC plans to move these supplies into Libya by road as quickly as possible to treat those injured by the violence of recent days.
The number of war-wounded treated at the two main referral hospitals in the Somali capital Mogadishu sharply increased last year. More than 6000 such patients were admitted to Medina and Keysaney hospitals in 2010 compared to 5000 in 2009 and around 2800 in 2008. More than a third of the wounded (2300) were women and children, caught in the fierce fighting between the Transitional Federal Government forces, backed by the African Union, and armed groups such as Al-Shabab.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched a record appeal to cover its response to increasingly complex humanitarian needs worldwide. The Geneva based organisation is calling on donors for 1.047 billion Swiss francs for field operations - a 12 percent increase on the 2010 budget.
Though the July rains this year held the promise of a more or less normal harvest in Mali and Niger, for many years both countries have been hit by repeated droughts. The lack of heavy rain from September 2009 to July this year is one of the main causes of the serious food crisis in the region. Grazing land is dwindling and herders are having to cover ever greater distances with their animals to find green land. But this land often belongs to farmers, who are themselves increasingly struggling to find cultivable land. Scarcer resources exacerbate intercommunal tension, and conflict is particularly violent in the dry season.