United Nations completes mission to Misrata, Libya [EN/AR]
(Misrata, Libya, 14 July 2011): The United Nations has completed its second inter-agency humanitarian assessment mission to the port city of Misrata, which had seen some of the worst fighting over the past months during the conflict in Libya. Though aspects of normalcy have returned to Misrata, yet the city itself is still surrounded by the Libyan Government forces and remains exposed to intermittent rocket attacks. The fourday mission ending on 13 July assessed humanitarian needs and security in Libya’s third city with a pre-conflict estimated population of 517,000 people. Misrata is situated 210 km to the east of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast, and can only be accessed by sea.
The UN inter-agency mission was comprised of staff from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Program (WFP), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO, the UN Mine Action Office and the United Nations Population Fund. The UN’s second mission into Misrata evaluated the urgent population needs of food, health, water, sanitation, hygiene and shelter.
Mission members noted that some shops and markets have re-opened. However, community leaders told the UN team that rising food prices, a shortage of supplies, and an acute lack of cash were preventing the majority of people from buying enough food. Mission members found that large quantities of explosive remnants of war remain in Misrata. Community leaders also said there is a 15 km minefield between the coastal towns of Misrata and Zlitan, which they said had killed two civilians and injured 30 others.
According to WHO, immediate health needs are very serious in Misrata and throughout Libya due to interruptions in the supply of life-saving medicines and medical supplies. WHO is particularly concerned that access to vaccines for children throughout Libya has not been secured.
WFP expressed concern over humanitarian access to the city. “The only way we can reach the population is by sea. The road from Benghazi to Misrata is too dangerous due to the ongoing fighting,” said Azhar Mehdi Salih from WFP. WFP has distributed 2,634 metric tons of food in Misrata to 125,000 people since April.
UNHCR is assessing the extent of shelter destruction in Misrata due to the on-going conflict, and is looking at means of reconstruction. Tripoli street, Misrata’s central artery, had come under heavy bombardment during the fighting over the past months. The protracted fighting in and around Misrata has exposed children to risks associated with armed conflict. UNICEF has identified an urgent need for psychosocial support for children and is working to create child friendly spaces in which children can play safely, learn and express themselves.
UN agencies coordinate with international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) operating in the area. The Misrata Inter-Agency Humanitarian Hub was established one month ago to provide support on logistics, mapping, and coordination and to provide security advice to aid workers in Misrata. It is run by the French relief agency ACTED, with the Italian charity CESVI and Mercy Corps.