Ambassador Betty E. King
Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
At the Meeting of UNHCR and IOM Regarding the Situation in Libya
March 2, 2011
The United States would like to take this opportunity to commend UNHCR and IOM for their quick response to the Libya crisis and for their collaborative approach in meeting the needs of those fleeing conflict in Libya.
We share UNHCR’s and IOM’s concern for refugees and third country nationals still stranded inside Libya and we urge Libyans to take all measures possible to ensure their safety and to facilitate UNHCR and IOM evacuation planning.
We particularly appreciate the cooperation and commitment demonstrated by both Tunisia and Egypt in maintaining open borders and providing safe haven to refugees, returning nationals, and third-country nationals. In this 60th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, Egypt and Tunisia have reminded us all of the importance of providing protection and asylum to those in need.
The United States understands the incredible strain such large numbers of people have placed on receiving governments and people, and we stand ready to support the international community as it works with Egypt and Tunisia to respond to the influx.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced this past weekend that the United States would be providing an initial $10 million in support to international and non-governmental organizations. In addition, yesterday we made $2 million available to IOM to support its emergency evacuation and repatriation operation for third-country nationals. As we work with UNHCR, IOM, and other partners to better assess the situation and resource requirements, funds and other assistance will be forthcoming.
The United States is deploying joint USAID-State Department humanitarian teams to the region to assess conditions and provide additional funding recommendations. Our teams will coordinate closely with the UN and other donors in this effort, and we look forward to sharing information as the situation develops.
We also look forward to support from other donors in this massive humanitarian relief effort. We welcome the contributions that have been made to date, and encourage all donor governments to contribute generously towards the efforts of UNHCR, IOM, and other relief partners.
While we’re here at this meeting to discuss UNHCR and IOM’s humanitarian response to Libya, we all know that much more than humanitarian relief is required. As Secretary Clinton mentioned yesterday in her testimony to Congress, the US government has been engaged in marathon diplomacy at the United Nations and with our allies, agreeing on quick and aggressive steps to pressure and isolate Libya’s leaders. Secretary Clinton stressed that we are taking no options off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to turn on its own people.
Once again, we urge Libyan authorities to protect not only Libyan citizens but also the significant number of refugees and migrant workers who remain inside Libya.