U.N. Officials Highlight Lack Of Access To Humanitarian Aid In Libya

Three-quarters of Libya was still unable to access humanitarian aid last week, Catherine Bragg, the U.N.’s deputy emergency relief coordinator, said on Thursday, the Canadian Press reports.

“Bragg told more than 100 diplomats at a briefing on the Libyan crisis that the United Nations is urgently working to establish dialogue with all parties to gain access to all areas of the country and assess the humanitarian needs of civilians,” the news service writes. “Inside Libya, we have scanty information on the humanitarian fallout from the intense fighting in the past few days,” Bragg said. “Medical needs are a major concern, particularly as we are receiving reports of hospital closures at a time when people most need medical care. We need nurses, and wounded civilians need to reach these facilities,” she added (Lederer, 3/11).

“We can only guess the magnitude of humanitarian needs, particularly in the west,” Rashid Khalikov, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, said on Thursday, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports. “We have no reliable information because there is no U.N. presence in Libya,” he said. According to Khalikov, 22 percent of the U.N.’s $160 million appeal for Libya had been funded (3/10). Khalikov arrived in Libya’s capital city Tripoli on Saturday “for discussions with authorities that will focus on access for aid workers who need to travel across the country to assess the requirements of those affected by the unrest and ensure that assistance is delivered to them,” the U.N. News Centre writes (3/12).

“Hundreds of African migrants who fled the violence in Libya to a refugee camp in Tunisia are refusing to return to their home countries where they say they would face poverty or violence,” Reuters reports in a story examining the migrants’ perspective and aid workers’ response.

Though a “majority” of migrants are looking forward to returning home, “hundreds of people – mostly from Nigeria, Somalia and other African countries – are hoping to be able to file for asylum and go to Europe,” according to the news service. “Aid workers said migrants were repatriated on a voluntary basis and that if a large number of people began refusing to go back to their countries that would complicate their efforts to deal with the humanitarian emergency at the border” (Karouny, 3/11).

Libyan Uprising Could Affect Regional Food Security, FAO Says

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “expressed serious concern on Friday about the impact of the Libyan uprising on food security across North Africa because of the region’s dependency on cereal imports,” Reuters reports (Hornby, 3/11).  

“The ongoing crisis will likely have a significant impact on food security in Libya and in nearby crisis-affected areas. In Libya, the situation may lead to a sudden disruption of imports and the collapse of the internal distribution system. Depletion of food stocks and loss of rural manpower are all factors that in the longer-term could seriously affect food security,” FAO Emergency Operations Service Chief Daniele Donati said in a press release (3/11). “The situation is very dynamic and very volatile and risks changing on a day-by-day basis in the coming weeks and months,” Donati said in an interview with Reuters. “He said it could lead to a sudden disruption of imports and the collapse of the internal food distribution system. … Donati saw no immediate risk to food availability in North Africa but said that could change if the conflict drags on,” the news service reports (3/11). VOA News also interviewed Donati (DeCapua, 3/11).

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