Food Situation Improving In Misrata But Prices And Lack Of Cash A Worry

Published on 21 July 2011

CAIRO – A  four-day UN joint mission to Misrata has found that while food assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) and other humanitarian actors has led to an improvement in the food situation in the port city, rising food prices and the lack of money for people to buy food mean the situation remains a concern.

The World Food Programme (WFP) was part of this second UN mission that visited Misrata from 10 to 14 July. The mission also included UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO, UN Mine Action and UNFPA.

WFP found that, despite availability in the shops, people do not have enough money to buy all the food they need. People have limited access to cash. Last salaries were received in February. Some banks are still operating, but with limited capacity and restrictions are imposed on cash withdrawals.

The price of meat has increased by 30 percent and has doubled for fruits and vegetables. These products must be imported from Benghazi. Agricultural activities have been interrupted around Misrata and farms products, whatever available, cannot be brought into the town easily, because of heavy fighting.  

WFP is also concerned by the unpredictable nature of commercial food arrivals in the town to meet the needs. Libya’s public food distribution (PDS) system has not functioned for four months. It has resumed activities since 1 July. 

Since the beginning of the crisis, WFP has distributed 2,634 metric tons in Misrata to 125,000 people, in collaboration with the Libyan Red Crescent and the Relief Committee.

 A bakery project run by WFP in cooperation with ACTED opened on 10 July to serve 4,000 loaves of bread free of charge to 25 health and social welfare institutions.

Access to Misrata represents a huge challenge as the third most important city of the country can only be reached by sea. The roads to Misrata are unsafe due to the ongoing fighting.

As the lead agency of the UN logistics cluster for the Libyan crisis, WFP has established the first regular passenger/cargo ship from Benghazi to Misrata. The service is due to continue through July with one to two trips a week between the two cities. Since the vessel first voyage on 1 July, 118 passengers, including the mission team, and over 1,100 m3 worth of inter-agency cargo has been transported.

Since the beginning of the Libyan crisis four months ago, the World Food Programme has distributed more than 6,000 metric tons of food assistance to more than 543,000 people across the country. Working with partners, including the Libyan Red Crescent, more than 282,000 people in eastern Libya, and 261,000 in western Libya have received food assistance.

A three-month Special Operation for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has already carried more than 1300 passengers from 125 different organisations on 39 flights between Malta, Cairo, Benghazi and Djerba.

For further information:
Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Cairo, Tel. + 20225281730 +Mob.+201518766722