Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling on its international donors to provide an additional 47 million Swiss francs (approximately 53 million US dollars, or 38 million euros) to help the organization meet the urgent needs of people affected by the fighting in Libya. The appeal brings the budget for 2011 to over 77 million francs. "As long as the conflict in Libya continues, the outlook for the coming months is dire, and living conditions may further deteriorate for a large percentage of the population," said Boris Michel, ICRC head of operations for North and West Africa. The ICRC expects over 850,000 people affected by the Libyan conflict to have benefited from its assistance by the end of 2011. ICRC delegates will continue to visit people detained under the authority of the Transitional National Council in order to monitor their treatment and living conditions. Similar visits to people held by the Libyan government should start soon, as the highest authorities agreed in principle to such visits at the end of April. "From the onset of the crisis we have been talking to all parties, explaining our neutral and independent approach. This has helped us reach formal agreements with both the Libyan government and the Transitional National Council," explained Mr Michel. "One of our priorities now is to extend our activities to western and southern parts of Libya. Some of these funds will be used to distribute essential household items, support health services and clear unexploded munitions from the streets of Misrata and other towns." Fighting between government and opposition forces has left hundreds of people dead and thousands wounded since violence started on 15 February. Damage to houses, health-care facilities and to water and power networks has made living conditions hard for many. Several hundred thousand people have fled, most of them to Tunisia and Egypt. Since the crisis started, the ICRC has provided basic supplies and services such as food, water and medical care to more than 500,000 people inside Libya and in neighbouring countries. The organization has helped around 60,000 people re-establish contact with their family members, visited over 400 detainees, evacuated some 2,500 stranded foreign nationals and Libyan civilians from Misrata and started clearing dangerous unexploded devices in Ajdabiya. In addition, the ICRC has repeatedly urged all sides to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. The ICRC is coordinating its actions closely with the Libyan, Tunisian and Egyptian Red Crescent societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. For further information, please contact:Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Benghazi, tel: +870 772 390 124Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 50
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