CAIRO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered vital food assistance to more than 500,000 people affected by the conflict in Libya. The agency has provided food for civilians in conflict areas, internally displaced people, migrant workers, and vulnerable groups such as widows, orphans and the disabled.
WFP began moving food supplies into Libya by road and sea on 9 March, soon after the conflict erupted. So far, distributions have been made to more than 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.
Since the beginning of April, WFP has sent 1,600 metric tons of food assistance to the people of Misrata, enough to feed 125,000 people for a month. Another 2,000 metric tons of aid is on the way.
WFP has extended its regional emergency operation for North Africa for three more months until the end of August, at an overall cost of US$100 million. This would cover 1.5 million people affected by the violence in Libya and neighbouring countries. So far, the emergency operation has received only a quarter of the funds it needs.
Concerns are growing about access to food inside Libya, especially in areas heavily affected by fighting, where the price of many food commodities has more than doubled. Libya is a food deficit country heavily reliant on imports with a public food distribution system under stress as food stocks in the country are being consumed without replenishment.
In addition to providing food, WFP is the lead agency for the provision of logistics and telecommunications services to the entire humanitarian community. A Special Operation for logistics and ICT support is also being extended for another three months at an overall cost of US$6.4 million.
WFP also operates the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) which has so far flown more than 650 passengers -- mainly humanitarian workers and aid agencies – on over 20 flights between Malta, Cairo, Benghazi and Djerba.