Obama Administration 'Confident' Aid to Libya in Good Hands

Thousand of refugees - mainly from Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mali and Chad - line up to receive food aid in the border town of Sallum, Egypt, after fleeing the violence in neighboring Libya. Photo by: David Ohana / United Nations

Obama administration officials said U.S. assistance to Libya is reaching its intended beneficiaries amid the escalating political violence in the Arab nation.  

The statement comes as House Republicans call for cuts to U.S. foreign affairs and aid resources to help curb the national deficit. 

U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg said the U.S. government’s “confidence is high” that U.S. aid, which has gone into Libya, is not being diverted.

“I want to underscore that we are already and have been for some time now providing assistance directly inside of Libya through our NGO (non-governmental organization) and other partners,” she said in a press briefing Monday (March 14). “It’s primarily in the east.”  

Lindborg along with State Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Eric P. Schwartz, traveled to the Libyan borders in Tunisia and Egypt between March 8-12. 

Schwartz said international aid groups help to ensure that U.S. aid is delivered efficiently. 

“You have to appreciate that the international and non-governmental organizations with which we work – we have worked with for many, many years – they have established very careful protocols for the distribution of assistance, even in highly uncertain and fragile environments. So I think we can say with a high degree of confidence that the assistance that has gone in is going to good use,” he said during the briefing.

Schwartz urged other donors to “do more” to help Libya. 

“Others do need to do more. The challenges are still significant and substantial, and they will continue in the days, weeks – days and weeks ahead,” he said.

In a joint opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Saturday (March 12), the two U.S. officials notes that a “swift and effective” humanitarian response to the Libyan crisis is a case in point for why U.S. aid funding should be spared from cuts.

“The existence of a system of international and non-governmental organizations capable of deploying quickly and channeling contributions from a wide array of donors into coherent and efficient lifesaving activities is a direct result of concerted U.S. efforts to build and sustain this important humanitarian architecture,” Lindborg and Schwartz write. 

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday (March 14) it has withdrawn its staff from Ajdabiyah as Libyan forces advanced into rebel-held towns. 

Ajdabiyah is just east of Brega where the fighting has escalated, according to ICRC. 

“For security reasons we have decided to move all non-essential staff in Benghazi a bit further back to Tobruk, near the border,” ICRC spokesman Christian Cardon told Reuters in Geneva. “We have withdrawn staff from Ajdabiyah.”

Read more development aid news.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.