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A momentous year: helping Libya overcome crisis and change - 2011 was a tumultuous year in the Middle East, as the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring spread throughout the region. In Libya anti-government demonstrations rapidly escalated into armed conflict, displacing tens of thousands from their homes and leading to a worsening humanitarian situation. In this context of rapid and volatile change, ACTED was amongst the first international aid actors to respond to the crisis, addressing the emergency food, water and NFI needs of the population in the Benghazi region and subsequently deploying to other areas – in particular Misrata, Ajdabiya, Tripoli and Sirte – as soon as they became accessible.
Providing essential emergency support to conflict-affected populations
One of the first INGOs to react to the Libyan crisis, ACTED used a multi-sector, multi-disciplinary approach to help reach as many beneficiaries as possible. Over 1,500 metric tonnes of food were distributed to more than 45,000 people that had fled or lost their homes during the fighting. This was accompanied by distributions of drinking water and essential non-food items, ensuring displaced populations were able to face the searingly hot Libyan summer and unusually cold winter of 2011. Setting up a Humanitarian Hub in the besieged city of Misrata in early June, ACTED helped facilitate the work of numerous national and international aid organisations through providing vital communication, mapping and coordination services, as well as managing much of the humanitarian relief arriving into Misrata port. ACTED also carried out vital cash-based interventions and livelihoods support in the enclave, playing a key role in keeping the city afloat whilst conflict raged on its borders. As the conflict evolved and the front lines shifted, so other cities became accessible. ACTED’s offices in Benghazi and Misrata were complemented with a capital office in Tripoli and sub-offices in both Ajdabiya and Sirte, allowing ACTED to expand its geographic focus and reach an ever greater number of beneficiaries.
Vital technical expertise: REACH mapping and database support
Through REACH, a mapping, database and assessment unit of the Geneva-based think tank IMPACT, ACTED remained at the forefront of information sharing and needs assessments in Libya. ACTED’s REACH teams collected, collated and analysed vital information as the situation in Libya progressed throughout 2011, sharing their findings with other aid actors and allowing them to prioritise their interventions based on the needs identified. REACH’s highly detailed satellite imagery also allowed aid agencies to pre-plan humanitarian interventions in those areas rendered inaccessible by the conflict, shortening response time in many sectors. ACTED’s REACH teams conducted an in depth assessment and analysis of all conflict-damaged shelters in many of the worst affected areas of the country – Misrata, Ajdabiya, Sirte, the Nafusa mountains - individually categorising and photographing each damaged house. Combined with a vulnerability profile of each household, this information has proved to be vitally important both for aid actors and the new Libyan government in its efforts to rebuild and plan for a new future. Furthermore, ACTED helped monitor movements of IDPs throughout the country, integrating this data into maps that were then shared widely. A diverse range of aid agencies benefited from maps produced by the REACH team, highlighting the crucial role that this new technology has to play in future humanitarian crises.
From revolution to transition: ACTED supports emerging civil society across Libya
2012 has seen relative calm return to Libya. In the post-conflict and early recovery phases, ACTED will focus on giving support to the fledgling civil society sector that has blossomed since the fall of the previous regime. With a large geographic coverage and a strong in-country logistical setup, ACTED will continue conducting targeted emergency interventions to populations in need, while focusing primarily on supporting new Libyan NGOs as they transition from grassroots movements to civil society organisations. ACTED will set up training and resource centres in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata and Sabha, and complement this with key trainings that will be delivered across the country. Simultaneously, ACTED’s REACH team, in coordination with UNICEF and the Libyan Ministry of Education, will begin conducting a nationwide assessment of all schools in Libya in an effort to highlight the previously unrecognised needs of teachers, students and educational institutions throughout the country. This breadth of activities, from targeted emergency assistance to civil society support, is not only a fair reflection of the current state of contrasting flux within Libya, but also highlights the capacity of ACTED to adapt and respond to varied humanitarian needs.
Partners in 2011
European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), Islamic Relief, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), Shelterbox, World Food Programme (WFP).