UN food aid reaches half a million conflict-affected Libyans
|Publisher||UN News Service|
|Publication Date||17 June 2011|
|Cite as||UN News Service, UN food aid reaches half a million conflict-affected Libyans, 17 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e01b69b2.html [accessed 9 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered vital food assistance to more than 500,000 people affected by the ongoing fighting between the Government and rebels in Libya, even as concerns continue to grow about access to food inside the country.
The price of many food commodities has more than doubled in areas heavily affected by fighting, the agency noted in a news release.
Even before the fighting that erupted several months ago between Government forces and rebel groups seeking the ouster of Muammar al-Qadhafi, Libya was a food deficit country heavily reliant on imports. Its public food distribution system is currently under stress as food stocks are being consumed without replenishment.
Since it began to move food supplies into Libya in early March soon after the conflict began, WFP distributed aid to over 270,000 people in eastern Libya, 136,000 people in western Libya (mainly in the Nafusa Mountain area), and an additional 125,000 people in the city of Misrata.
"It has been a priority for WFP to mobilize food for those who are most vulnerable to hunger, especially people living in areas such as Misrata that have been severely affected by the conflict," said Daly Belgasmi, WFP's Regional Director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
The agency has extended its regional emergency operation for North Africa for three more months until the end of August, at an overall cost of $100 million.
So far the emergency operation, which would cover 1.5 million people affected by the violence in Libya and neighbouring countries, has received only a quarter of the funds it needs, WFP noted.
Other needs inside Libya include baby milk and diapers, medicines and vaccines throughout Government-controlled areas, as well as medicines and qualified personnel in Misrata, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The Office added that the $408 million revised flash appeal launched last month to help more than 2 million civilians caught up in the conflict in Libya is currently 51 per cent funded.
Meanwhile, almost 650,000 people have left Libya and not returned. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are 243,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country.
In Geneva, the head of the international treaty banning anti-personnel mines has expressed "deep concern" about reports of new mine use in Libya.
"New deployments of mines in Libya run counter to the norms that are accepted by the majority of States," said Gazmend Turdiu, President of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention.
The use of mines in Libya was reported by international media in March. Libya is one of four African nations that have not joined the Convention, which has 156 States parties.
In a related development, the UN Human Rights Council today extended the mandate of the independent commission of inquiry established to probe alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya.
In a resolution adopted in Geneva, the Council requested the commission to continue its work, including through visits, and to provide an oral update to the Council at its 18th session, and a final written report at its 19th session.
In a preliminary report submitted to the Council early this month, the three-member International Commission of Inquiry found that Government forces committed war crimes during fighting that followed the uprising against the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi.
The commission said that it had found fewer reports of international crimes by opposition fighters, but did find some actions which would constitute war crimes.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres travelled to Tunisia this week, meeting refugees who have fled Libya.
He urged the international community to help countries such as Tunisia that are sheltering the majority of the people displaced from Libya.