Aid crisis may be looming in Libya: UNHCR

7th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday warned Tuesday that an aid crisis appeared to be looming in Libya and more international relief may soon be needed, as the prolonged conflict and sanctions stymie the regime's ability to deliver aid.

"An aid crisis could be looming," said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, giving an update on the agency's visit last week to Libya.

"Despite the fact that warehouses are currently well stocked with basic food items, it is apparent that the combined impact of protracted conflict and sanctions are eroding the government's ability to effectively deliver assistance," he noted.

"The view of the inter-agency mission was that if this situation continues, international aid is likely to be needed in a matter of weeks," he added.

UNHCR staff noted that queues for petrol reached as long as 8.2 kilometres (five miles) in Tripoli and that 49,000 people are estimated displaced in the capital and the Zlitan region.

In the rebel-held western city of Misrata, the agency was told that the number of displaced people reached 25,000, with many staying with host families and relatives, while others are housed in schools and unoccupied new buildings.

About 1,000 people have also been reportedly kidnapped in the city and surroundings since the conflict began in February, according to local aid agencies and rights activists.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, the number of people who have fled Libya to its six neighbouring countries, or who have arrived in Italy and Malta has reached 952,000, many of whom are migrant workers.

The IOM said a "large community of mostly African and Filipino migrant workers" remain sheltered in two sites at Tripoli, and that the Malian ambassador estimates that up to 10,000 Malians are still in western Libya.

© 2011 AFP

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