UN warns of fund shortfall for Libya aid operations

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The United Nations warned Friday that it was running out of funds to finance its relief operations in Libya and neighbouring countries, where many of those who were displaced by violence have fled.

"UNHCR is facing a critical shortage of funds for our operations in Libya and neighbouring countries," said Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Unless funds are swiftly committed by donor countries, this shortfall will likely impact vital humanitarian assistance for tens of thousands of poeple displaced by the recent fighting," he added.

The UN had called for $310 million on April 5, but has received only 41 percent of what it needs, not only to provide relief items, but also to help evacuate migrants who have massed at border regions of countries neighbouring Libya.

The International Organization for Migration, which has been working with the UNHCR to evacuate migrants, was also running out of funds.

The inter-governmental agency has sent a ship with a capacity of 800 to evacuate some 8,300 people stuck in Misrata, but only has enough funds to carry out two rounds of evacuations of 1,600 people in total.

"We simply do not have money to carry out such life saving operations," said Jemini Pandya, spokeswoman for the organisation.

© 2011 AFP

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