UN needs presence in Libya: aid envoy

23rd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN's humanitarian coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, said Wednesday that experts from the world body should be inside Libya to evaluate aid needs.

Khalikov, who visited Libya on March 11 to 16, said such a presence "in different parts of the country" would allow the United Nations to judge whether Libyans still had access to social services and identify any disruption to supplies.

"We need to have an internal presence in the country to assess the needs," he told journalists, underlining that the situation was "unpredictable".

"We do not have enough information to say that there is a humanitarian crisis."

Khalikov said discussions were still underway with Libyan authorities about a UN evaluation mission.

The United Nations says it has received 63 percent of the funding for its 160 million dollar aid appeal for the Libyan crisis. Most of it is being used to help those who fled the country, said Khalikov.

Some 336,658 people, mainly expatriate migrant workers, have fled Libya since the unrest erupted in mid-Febuary, according to the UN.

About 9,000 people who fled Libya are still at the border in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia awaiting repatriation.

They include 1,000 people who do not want to head back to their home country, the UN said.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated Tuesday that thousands could be displaced in the east of Libya.

The aid group International Medical Corps reported that 2,000 people fled from Ajdabiya to the northeastern city of Tobruk on March 18 following increased fighting and were staying in schools, according to a UN situation report.

"There are unconfirmed reports of an additional 80,000 IDPs (internally displaced people) within Libya," it added.

However, UN humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said the world body could not verify those figures.

© 2011 AFP

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