With large oil revenues, a small population of about 6.5 million and a relatively high level of development, Libya has traditionally been one of the richest countries in Africa. It ranked 53 out of 169 countries in the 2010 UN Human Development Report.
Libya relies heavily on imports to meet its food requirements, as only 1.7 percent of the land is arable and the food produced inside Libya is far from sufficient for the population.
The 2011 conflict combined with international sanctions crippled the economy, which is highly dependent on revenues from the oil sector, and caused severe food shortages. Thousands of Libyans were displaced as a result and tens of thousands of migrant workers fled the country resulting in a shortage in labour.
Since March this year, WFP has been delivering food assistance to conflict-affected populations across the country as well as to those who fled to neighbouring countries. WFP provides assistance to displaced populations and vulnerable families as well as migrant workers stranded in Libya who lack access to the public food distribution systems.
Before this year, WFP had a minimal presence in Libya, operating only as a logistics corridor between Sudan and Chad. WFP, like most UN agencies and other organizations, are new to humanitarian operations in Libya and WFP has relied on strong partners on the ground like the Libyan Red Crescent, LibAID, the Scouts and others to get food to people in need.
In September, the UN General Assembly recognised Libya’s new government and a UN mission was established marking a new phase of peace-building and reconstruction in the country. WFP continues to respond to the urgent food needs of populations fleeing pockets where there is continued fighting as well as the overstretched host communities.
WFP also assists Tunisian and Egyptian workers who returned to their home countries fleeing the conflict in Libya.