Libya: UN agencies scale up response as fighting displaces thousands in Sabratha region
13 October 2017 – United Nations relief agencies have upped their response in western Libya’s Sabratha region following intensification of conflict that has already driven over 15,000 people from their homes.
“Because of the conflict, many of the normal systems that people depend on to meet their daily needs have ceased to function,” said Richard Ragan, the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) country office in Libya, in a news release.
“[Our] support gives hope to those most in need and offers life-saving food assistance during a period when help is most urgently needed.”
With its partners on the ground, the UN emergency food relief agency has delivered enough food to feed some 1,500 people who have been most affected by the fighting. It is providing food assistance to almost 300 families, with each ration offering a family of five a month’s supply of rice, pasta, wheat flour, chickpeas, vegetable oil, sugar and tomato paste.
In 2017, WFP aims to assist 175,000 Libyans suffering from food insecurity. It has prioritized the most vulnerable families, especially the internally displaced people, returnees and refugees, as well as households headed by unemployed women, but needs $9.2 million to continue its food assistance operations in the country for the next six months.
Similarly, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also displaced emergency assistance including sleeping bags, hygiene kits, food and blankets to respond to the immediate needs. It has also deployed staff to various locations to assess needs.
“The most pressing needs include psychological first aid, emergency medical care, food, water, core relief items and shelter, as many refugees and migrants, including children and vulnerable individuals, are sleeping out in the open,” Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, told reporters at a regular news briefing in Geneva.
However, information from the ground points to a very grim picture – individuals are suffering from trauma, injuries and diseases, and many are without proper clothing or shoes. There are also unaccompanied and separated children, with some children reporting the recent loss of their parents.
Located 80 kilometres (about 50 miles) west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, Sabratha city has been the location of three weeks of fierce fighting. The hostilities are reported to have damaged or destroyed over 500 houses and displaced more than 3,000 Libyan families and stranded over 10,000 refugees and migrants, who are need of urgent assistance.
In 2017, WFP aims to assist 175,000 Libyans whose food insecurity means they do not know where their next meal is coming from.