Despite their rocky relationship, the UK announced £1 million in humanitarian support for Libya in the face of the unfolding crisis.
“This is a crisis not just for Libya and those families impacted but for all of us,” UK Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Lord Ahmed said in an interview with Al Arabiya.
Lord Ahmed said the UK had pledged more funding in recent days and has been coordinating with key partners such as the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN agencies.
He highlighted that the initial funding was for life-saving equipment, sanitation, water, food, and shelter.
The first flight carrying this essential support already landed in Benghazi.
Recognizing the urgent need for medical aid for survivors, the UK has also dispatched a team in collaboration with UK Med to assess the medical requirements on the ground.
The British diplomat also announced an additional £10 million in funding from the UK, earmarked for addressing the earthquake tragedy in Morocco and the immediate needs of the Libyan people.
Furthermore, he discussed the coordination efforts with the United Nations, specifically the UN humanitarian fund (CERF), to which the UK contributed over £52 million. The UN swiftly allocated £10 million from this fund for life-saving support in response to the crisis in Libya.
Asked about the possibility of increasing funding, Lord Ahmed stressed the importance of assessment teams currently on the ground to understand the immediate requirements fully. He emphasized the need for coordination and cooperation among all parties involved in Libya to ensure the efficient delivery of humanitarian aid.
Complex situation on the ground
Lord Ahmed acknowledged the complex situation in Libya, highlighting the UK’s ongoing efforts to support reconciliation initiatives .
He emphasized the importance of coordination, given the multifaceted nature of the crisis and the existing challenges in Libya “Coordination is key and, in that regard, there is an appeal for all sides and Libya to work together because this is in the service of humanity the people of Libya need us all.”
Lord Ahmed also touched on the threat of disease spreading in Libya and the UK’s role in preventing such a disaster, stressing the need for immediate assessments and coordination with various agencies, including UN agencies, to ensure a concerted effort in addressing this issue.
“The first and foremost thing is trying to recover survivors,” Lord Ahmed said.
He shared his experience on the ground during his recent visit to Libya. “I’ve been on the ground; I mean, it really shakes you to the core,” he said.
Regarding the challenges in Derna, in the eastern part of Libya, Lord Ahmed spoke about the logistical difficulties in accessing the area and the fragility of the situation on the ground. “Different people, different parties controlling different elements of those groups, and our appeal to them is a simple one: whatever your motive, whatever your instincts, the main instinct should be the service of humanity.”
When asked about the UK’s engagement in Libya, considering the absence of a single government, Lord Ahmed explained that the UK works with various perspectives and mainly engages with the president and prime minister of Libya.
As for speculation about the maintenance of certain dams being the leading cause of the deadly flood, he said that the UK had not yet concluded what caused the flood or who was to blame.
In the meantime, Lord Ahmed hopes that the government will learn an important lesson from this disaster.
“Sometimes it takes a disaster of this kind of unimaginable terms to pull the country together. One hopes that those who are on the ground realize their responsibility,” he explained.
The UK’s priority is to ensure that all humanitarian and medical aid will reach those in need, he said. He reiterated the UK’s commitment to assisting Libya during this crisis and emphasized the importance of coordination, unity among Libyan factions, and international support.
He expressed hope that the tragedy in Libya would galvanize the nation to work together for a better future “It’s not about the past; it’s about where we are right now…a catastrophe which has hit the people of Libya, … right now we need to be looking at their immediate needs and the future.”