Brussels – Some 40,000 Chadian workers trying to flee Libya's conflict are stranded at the border with Chad, the European Commission said Monday as it announced €10 million (US$14 million) in aid for refugees.
Warning that the situation at the border is "alarming," European Union Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva urged the international community to focus on the Libyan war's impact on impoverished southern neighbours Chad and Niger.
"Let us not forget the plight of the Chadians, who were targeted as enemies by both the regime and the rebels, and who have tried to flee Libya, only to find themselves stuck at its border with no access to food, water, shelter and care," Georgieva said.
The 40,000 Chadians stranded in Libya await evacuation in "dire conditions" while needs are "equally acute" across the border in northern Chad, the commission said.
EU humanitarian aid experts who visited the border area found a "fast-growing humanitarian emergency," with Chadian towns flooded with returnees and unable to cope with a sharp rise in demand for food and water.
In the small Chadian town of Faya-Largeau alone, located on a main route travelled by Chadians fleeing Libya, 19,000 returnees have arrived in the past three months, the commission said. The town's population totals 14,000 people.
The EU's executive arm said the €10 million will pay for food, water, medical assistance and protection for Chadians who return to their home country.
"Three months into this conflict, I am increasingly concerned by the deterioration of humanitarian conditions," Georgieva said.
"I reiterate our urgent call to all parties in Libya to facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations and let them operate throughout the country and provide assistance in a neutral and impartial manner to all affected people, whatever their nationalities."