On 17 February 2011, a major political protest began in Libya drawing the country rapidly into chaos. The European Commission and EU Member States were at the forefront of the humanitarian response, mobilizing funds and resources to provide aid where needed most: the evacuation of EU citizens from Libya and tens of thousands of migrant workers stranded in Egypt and Tunisia; the provision of medical aid behind the front lines and water and food to civilians; and the clearance of remnants of war to allow people to return to their homes. Now, when reconstruction and reconciliation are high on the agenda, ECHO continues to ensure protection for those population groups stigmatized by having been on the wrong side of the revolution.
The political situation has evolved considerably but two major humanitarian concerns persist in Libya: protection of the civilian population groups, in particular ethnic minority groups and Sub-Saharan Africans and the presence of unexploded ordnances (UXOs), arms and ammunitions. These activities have been the focus of ECHO's aid since Libya was declared liberated.
Since the beginning of the Libyan crisis the European Commission provided €80.5 million in humanitarian aid. In the first stages of the crisis the funds were used to help mainly migrant workers fleeing Libya to survive in the border areas by providing tents, food, blankets, water and sanitation until they were evacuated. The funding also supported the evacuation effort of the workers back to their countries of origin. ECHO's humanitarian interventions were then extended to provide direct humanitarian assistance to accessible areas within Libya and to financing emergency stocks. These were prepositioned for relief assistance to those areas expected to be accessible once the front line moved on. A further €10 million of the total funding was used for the reintegration of Chadian migrants returning to Chad.
In addition, 11 EU Member States and Norway participated in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. They offered ships and planes to support the evacuation, as well as in-kind assistance. The EU Civil protection mechanism supported these efforts financially with over €10.5 million.
Where needed, throughout the crisis, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection department has had experts on the ground to assess changing needs, to monitor the delivery of aid and to ensure coordination with aid organizations and donors. The humanitarian emergency is now over, but ECHO will continue to closely monitor the situation.