WFP, Clinton Warn Of Escalating Humanitarian Situation In Libya

The World Food Program (WFP) on Wednesday warned that the humanitarian situation in Libya could worsen as a result of the heavy fighting and low stocks of food supplies, Reuters reports.

“Libya faces a humanitarian crisis following an unprecedented level of upheaval and violence,” the WFP said in a statement. “The future of the public subsidised food distribution system in Libya is very worrying to WFP and food security partners,” it said. “According to available information, mainly from the eastern parts of the country, the food that is in the country is being consumed, without being adequately replenished … the number of those in need of food assistance could increase dramatically,” WFP said, calling for “commercial liners to resume operations” to the functional eastern ports of Tobruk and Benghazi. The statement also highlighted concerns about gaining access to Western Libya (4/13).

Also on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement that Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya have destroyed food warehouses and cut water and power in some areas “in an apparent attempt to starve the people into submission,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Clinton says snipers targeted people seeking medical attention. Thousands are being forced from their homes by tanks. And regime officials are promising to attack humanitarian aid shipments to the western city,” according to the newspaper (4/13).

In related news, Planning and Finance Minister Abdulhafid Zlitni called for the funds it holds abroad to be “unfrozen immediately” so the government can use them for humanitarian needs, according to a second Reuters article. Zlitni “estimated that about $120 billion of Libya’s assets had been frozen as part of sanctions, but that the North African country still had significant ‘contingency reserves,'” the news service writes (4/13).