ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started moving food assistance through a new humanitarian corridor into western Libya to reach areas heavily affected by the fighting for the first time since violence erupted in the country.
“Securing this humanitarian corridor is a first vital step in reaching thousands of hungry people affected by the conflict - in particular women, children and elderly people - whose food supplies are running alarmingly short,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
A first convoy of 8 trucks loaded with 240 metric tons of wheat flour and 9.1 metric tons of high energy biscuits - enough to feed nearly 50,000 people for 30 days - crossed on Monday to western Libya from Ras Jedir on the Libyan Tunisian border.
The food supplies will be delivered through WFP’s partner the Libyan Red Crescent to the crisis-affected population, particularly women and children in Tripoli, Zintan, Yefrin, Nalut, Mezda, Al Reiba and Al Zawia.
On Saturday, WFP signed an operational agreement with the Libyan Red Crescent to coordinate the delivery and distribution of food assistance to the areas facing food shortages.
“In line with the humanitarian principles, WFP is coordinating with all parties to ensure that affected needy civilian population do not go hungry, irrespective of their area’s adherence to any of the warring factions,” said Daly Belgasmi, WFP’s Regional Director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
The corridor is initially being used for WFP’s own food supplies. WFP is the lead agency for logistics and ICT clusters, so the corridor may also be used to transport goods for other humanitarian partners.
The UN food agency reached the port city of Misrata for the first time on April 7 with 600 metric tons of food assistance, enough to feed 40,000 people for one month, on a WFP chartered humanitarian vessel carrying also medical supplies, doctors and other relief items on behalf of the humanitarian community.
WFP continues to move food assistance and other relief supplies through different humanitarian corridors by road from Egypt and Tunisia and by sea into the main ports along Libya’s Mediterranean coastline.
WFP has now reached more than 187,000 people in eastern Libya with food assistance and pre-positioned more than 17,500 metric tons of food stocks inside the country and across the region, as part of a US$42 million emergency operation that will provide food assistance to more than 1 million people in Libya and neighbouring countries.