Libya: Urgently needed water trickles into Tripoli

8 September, 2011
WFP is providing logistical support for the humanitarian relief effort in Libya, sending food and other urgent supplies including water, medicine and fuel to Tripoli. WFP is also scaling up food assistance to meet the needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced people in Tripoli, the coastal areas and the Nafusa Mountain Region. Credit: WFP
WFP is providing logistical support for the humanitarian relief effort in Libya, sending food and other urgent supplies including water, medicine and fuel to Tripoli. WFP is also scaling up food assistance to meet the needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced people in Tripoli, the coastal areas and the Nafusa Mountain Region. Credit: WFP

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have partnered to deliver 500,000 litres of bottled water to Libya’s capital Tripoli and surrounding areas where a lack of potable water has affected some four million people.

“At this time, hundreds of thousands of people in Tripoli do not have access to one of the most basic needs for survival – water. We must all do what we can to address this urgent need,” Zlatan Milisic, WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Libya said in a statement.

UNICEF sourced the water and WFP, as the lead logistics agency in the UN humanitarian system, provided transportation support. “WFP Logistics will continue to support lifesaving operations of all humanitarian actors in Libya,” Milisic said.

Tripoli has been experiencing water shortages since 22 August when fighting and lack of fuel shut down the city water supply system. The National Transitional Council was quick to request support from the international community to provide bulk drinking water as a stop-gap measure until the water system is fully restored.

According to UNICEF Libya Head of Office Christian Balslev-Olesen "this critical operation has been possible because of close cooperation between UNICEF and WFP." Balslev-Olesen’s organization is in the process of procuring over 11 million litres of water for people in Tripoli and surrounding areas.

In a statement last week, Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya Panos Moumtzis said: “I am very concerned … the situation is being dealt with urgently to avoid a potential health crisis.”

Moumtzis led a UN inter-agency mission that arrived in Tripoli on 2 September to re-establish a presence and lay the ground work for critical humanitarian assistance, particularly in areas where fighting had occurred. Besides the water shortages, the mission was there to look into the protection of civilians and take stock of the food situation.

“The humanitarian situation remains fragile,” Moumtzis said. “It is critical to ensure an immediate and effective UN presence on the ground to help identify and assist vulnerable people who have been particularly affected by the conflict and the disruption of services,” he added.

The team consisted of representatives UNICEF, WFP, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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