Libya: Humanitarians mobilize food and medical supplies

27 September, 2011
It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 people are displaced in Libya, with about 6,000 people displaced from Sirte alone. Credit: OCHA/Jihan El Alaily
It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 people are displaced in Libya, with about 6,000 people displaced from Sirte alone. Credit: OCHA/Jihan El Alaily

Intense fighting and insecurity are reported in Sirte, Bani Walid, and parts of southern Libya, continuing to hamper humanitarian access and assistance. Humanitarian actors have expressed concern over the situation in Sirte, where the electricity supply has reportedly been cut off and there are water shortages.

At a Geneva press conference on 26 September, Panos Moumtzis, the outgoing Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, who left Tripoli last week after completing his assignment, said there was no direct information coming out of Sirte due to the lack of access for UN and NGO partners.

It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 people are displaced in Libya, with about 6,000 people displaced from Sirte alone."The information we have comes from people who have managed to leave," said Moumtzis.

Serious protection concerns remain for civilians of around 50,000 IDPs from minority groups and third country nationals (TCNs). They have become more vulnerable to human rights violations due to direct threats to their physical security as well as social discrimination. Humanitarian actors are working to ensure that these IDPs have safe locations to seek shelter.

"We are mobilizing food and medical supplies on the outskirts. That is all we can do for the moment," Moumtzis stated. "For security reasons, we cannot cross over the lines." Humanitarian agencies are also providing medical assistance for war-wounded near the frontlines.

Humanitarian organizations continue to receive substantial requests for food assistance, especially in Sabha, Bani Walid and Sirte. However, exact numbers are still unclear and the numbers of people needing food aid may rise.

Otherconflict-affected parts of Libya are, however, stabilizing and life is gradually returning to normal. In these areas, humanitarian partners are looking at longer-term planning for early recovery and recovery activities.

Moumtzis emphasized that since the capture of Tripoli last month there had been "tremendous progress" in ensuring the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the capital and elsewhere. "We hope there will be a peaceful solution as soon as possible. The longer it continues, the more difficult it will be for civilians," he said.

More>> OCHA Situation Report #59