At the Joint Press Conference with President Calderón of Mexico today, President Obama addressed once more the situation in Libya and the humanitarian needs developing at the borders with third country nationals unable to leave the country. Here is the Libya part of the speech:
The United States, and the entire world, continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people. The United States is helping to lead an international effort to deter further violence, put in place unprecedented sanctions to hold the Qaddafi government accountable, and support the aspirations of the Libyan people.
We are also responding quickly to the urgent humanitarian needs that are developing. Tens of thousands of people —- from many different countries —- are fleeing Libya, and we commend the governments of Tunisia and Egypt for their response, even as they go through their own political transitions. I have, therefore, approved the use of U.S. military aircraft to help move Egyptians who have fled to the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt. I’ve authorized USAID to charter additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries find their way home, and we’re supporting the efforts of international organizations to evacuate people as well.
I’ve also directed USAID to send humanitarian assistance teams to the Libyan border, so that they can work with the United Nations, NGOs and other international partners inside Libya to address the urgent needs of the Libyan people.
Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: The violence must stop. Muammar Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave. Those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable. And the aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met.
The American Forces Press Service reported that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered the U.S. Africa Command to take the lead for defense planning regarding the situation in Libya. The report estimates that 180,000 people have fled Libya, many gathering along the border with Tunisia and states that DOD will continue to work in close coordination with the State Department and other agencies as needed.