UN aid appeal for Libya

DUBAI — To garner support of the governments and donor community in the country and region, UN agencies have launched a consolidated financial appeal to step up help to the turmoil-hit North African region.

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Published: Fri 18 Mar 2011, 11:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:23 AM

A total of $43 million is needed to feed over a million people in Libya, said representatives of UN agencies at the International Humanitarian City in Dubai while launching the regional appeal on Thursday.

“Of this, only 45 per cent of the funding has been pledged for the three-month emergency operation,” said Terri Toyota, Director of Government Donor Relations, World Food Programme (WFP).

The UAE has already responded to the calls and set up a camp on the border with Tunisia. Officials from the Red Crescent said that two ships carrying 70 tonnes of food, shelter items and medicines worth $14 million have already left from Turkey to Benghazi.

The private sector in the country has been roped in as well. “Last year, we were able to raise $1 million in partnerships,” said Ashraf Hamouda, Senior Partnership and Business Development Manager, WFP. “However, money is never enough.”

“Libya is highly dependent on imported food supplies. With rapidly depleting in-country stocks, we are deeply concerned about the consequences on vulnerable people,” she explained. Over 100,000 people have been taken care of, said Terri, adding that families had been provided with high-energy foodstuff.

“Over 10,000 Bangladeshi workers are waiting to be evacuated to Dhaka,” said Brigitte Khair Mountain, Senior Advisor and Head of UN High Commissioner for Refugee’s Abu Dhabi External Relations. “This costs us at least $250,000 per plane trip to transport 300 people,” she said.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 280,000 people have crossed the Libyan border mainly into Tunisia and Egypt. “While the number of people fleeing Libya continues to rise — including 2,250 arriving at the Egyptian border on Monday and a daily average of 3,000 arrivals at the Tunisian border since last Friday — the overall pace was slower than anticipated,” said Brigitte.

The UN refugee agency has raised renewed concerns about people being prevented from leaving Libya as fighting intensified in recent days. “In Tunisia, over 16,000 people at the border camp are awaiting onward transportation or other solutions,” she added.

The WFP’s office in Dubai is mobilising resources from the agency’s humanitarian depot in the Dubai International Humanitarian City to respond to the crisis. “We are already preparing non-food items and telecommunications experts to support the North Africa regional emergency,” said Mohammed Diab, WFP Representative and Country Director in the UAE.

“An information technology specialist has already been deployed to lead the inter-agency response in Libya in addition to dispatching over $175,325 worth of equipment, including radios, satellite phones and computers.”

“We are very closely following the situation across the North Africa region,” said Mukhtar Farah, Head of Liaison Office for OCHA Regional Office for Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. “Rashid Khalikov has been appointed as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for Libya and he has visited the country to negotiate humanitarian access and intervention with the government. Coordination hubs for relief assistance have now been established at Tunisian and Egyptian border locations.”

While the combined efforts of the WFP, UNHCR and OCHA have made a major contribution to the world’s efforts to support the humanitarian needs of people suffering from this emergency, further supplies are still needed. The UN and its partners launched a ‘Flash Appeal’ on March 5 seeking $160 million from the international community to assist up to 400,000 people leaving the country and an anticipated 600,000 people inside Libya.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com


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