WFP Ship Delivers Vital Humanitarian Assistance At Frontline Of Libya Conflict

Published on 08 April 2011

A World Food Programme (WFP) humanitarian vessel carrying life-saving food, medical supplies, doctors and other relief items has finally been able to reach Misrata port, opening up a new humanitarian lifeline to civilians trapped in the Libyan conflict.

“This is a breakthrough for the UN humanitarian operation in Libya and allows us to reach tens of thousands of people who are caught in one of the fiercest areas of conflict,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran.  “It is vital that we get these relief supplies to the vulnerable – especially women and children – and we are working with local partners, including the Libyan Red Crescent, to ensure their needs are met.”

The WFP-chartered vessel, Marianne Danica, docked in Misrata this afternoon carrying more than 600 metric tons of WFP food including wheat flour, vegetable oil and High Energy Biscuits – enough to feed more than 40,000 people for a month.  The ship is also delivering medical supplies on behalf of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).  These UNICEF and WHO emergency health kits and surgical material will cover the urgent needs for 50,000 people for a month.  Other materials will enable thousands of children to play in the relative safety of indoors. Two doctors are on board and will disembark at Misrata. 

“These supplies will meet the immediate needs that are inevitable after more than a month of almost total isolation,” said British International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, whose government funded UNICEF supplies aboard the ship. “But it also sends a message to the people of Misrata that they haven’t been forgotten by the rest of the world – to that end, we must continue to explore every avenue to keep getting aid to those in desperate need.”

“The situation is urgent for tens of thousands of children in Misrata and across Libya, who are potential victims of the fighting or who have already paid a terrible price,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “These supplies are a lifeline to them and all those trapped in the fighting.”

“WHO is supporting the relief efforts with its partners, and has provided medicines and medical supplies to to those affected by the violence in Libya. These efforts have been carried out despite the great challenges hindering the work of medical teams in some areas. “WHO is committed to meeting the health needs of the people affected by the violence against civilians and continues to work to ensure the right to health for all without discrimination based on religion, race or political affiliation,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General.

WFP began moving food supplies into Libya soon after the conflict erupted and has pre-positioned more than 17,000 metric tons of food stocks inside the country and across the region, as part of a US$42 million emergency operation that will provide food assistance to more than 1 million people in Libya and neighbouring countries.  Working with partners such as the Libyan Red Crescent, WFP plans to provide food to more than 600,000 people inside Libya over the next three months.

“The operation in Libya is complex and dangerous, but we are exploring every possible avenue to get food to the hungry,” Sheeran added.  “This means moving food assistance and other relief supplies by road from Egypt, and by sea into the main ports along Libya’s Mediterranean coastline.”

As the lead logistics and telecommunications agency in the UN humanitarian system, WFP is providing transport and communications support for the entire humanitarian community in Libya.

For further information:
Dr Naeema Al-Gasseer, WHO / Strategic Health Operations Centre Manager for Libya Crisis,Tel. +202 227 65027, Mob. +201 666 44447  (algasseern@emro.who.int)
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Emergencies Communication Officer, New York, Tel. + 1 212 326 7426, Mob. + 1 917 582 7546 (pmccormick@unicef.org)