Even as Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy restated their calls this week for an end to the Gaddafi regime, it remained impossible to predict how the crisis in Libya will end, or the full impact it will have on ordinary people there. The frontline between Gaddafi forces and the opposition continues to move back and forth regularly: one day the opposition will gain ground, the next day Gaddafi forces will push them back. Civilian populations in towns like Ajdabiya have been caught in the fighting and insecurity for weeks now, and the uncertainty is taking its toll.
Families from the areas most affected have left their homes and are taking shelter in schools, unfinished houses, abandoned buildings and some even in makeshift tents on the edge of the desert. Most are waiting for the fighting to move far away from their homes so they can return safely. Without running water or proper shelter, and in fear for their lives, it's a difficult time.
Assisting people who have been displaced by the fighting has been extremely challenging for aid groups. As soon as the fighting finishes in their home towns, most of the displaced move back home. Sometimes the people are only displaced for a couple days, so by the time their needs are identified the people are already heading home again. But despite the challenges, local organisations and aid groups have been able to assist the majority of the displaced with basic needs such as food, water and blankets.
The real concern is if the fighting continues long-term and displaces people for longer periods of time - and even if the conflict does end soon - how to ensure that the people of Libya have the support they need to rebuild their lives and communities.
Over the past month our emergency team has done assessments throughout eastern Libya, visiting the cities and villages where thousands of displaced families have fled, and is currently engaged in a response with a local partner organisation. Military interventions and ongoing violence continue to change the humanitarian situation, and we're well-placed to deliver relief when needs arise.
The past three months have brought huge change across the Middle East and North Africa, and Libya is of course no exception. The world - and dictators who have held their positions for decades - have been forced to hear the voices of individuals and communities who are seeking to remake their nations.
We at Mercy Corps have 20 years of experience supporting peaceful change in the region, with programmes in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen, and we know the kind of support that will be needed to help Libya move beyond crisis.
In these countries we are empowering young people with career and leadership training, technical skills and apprenticeships; providing psychosocial support for children and young people traumatised by conflict; improving the management of vital water resources; encouraging peaceful conflict resolution; and building business partnerships that stimulate sustainable job growth.
Now we’re preparing to lend our expertise in bringing people together and creating the opportunity to support those who want a better life in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Most people across the region want the same thing: a decent life for themselves and their families. Mercy Corps applauds the determination of the people of the Middle East, North Africa and Libya to overcome the challenges they face and create a better future for their children.
We will continue our work across the region, and remain poised to give our support to the people of Libya whenever it is needed. For now, how and when the uprising will end is still unclear, as is the fate of millions of civilians who have been affected by the fighting.