CAIRO – A ship chartered by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered more than 500 metric tons of food assistance, three ambulances, medical supplies and other relief items on behalf of humanitarian partners to the Libyan town of Misrata. This is the second time this month that a WFP-chartered vessel has delivered food and relief to the people of Misrata.
The ship delivered 350 metric tons of wheat flour on 23 April - enough to feed 23,000 people for one month. It also offloaded 150 metric tons of mixed food including pasta, rice, potatoes; 84 metric tons of bottled water; 12 metric tons of medicines and three ambulances on behalf of UNICEF, and other international aid organisations.
An earlier WFP shipment to Misrata on 7 April carried more than 600 metric tons of food assistance - enough to feed 40,000 for one month - for distribution to the civilian population trapped by the ongoing fighting. Local partners on the ground such as the Libyan Red Crescent are distributing the food mainly to hospitals and to the most vulnerable civilians - especially women and children.
WFP has recently opened a new supply route to western Libya. On Monday 17 April, a first convoy of 9 trucks loaded with 240 metric tons of wheat flour and 9 metric tons of High Energy Biscuits crossed to western Libya from Ras Jedir on the Libyan Tunisian border. The food supplies are being distributed through WFP’s partner, the Libyan Red Crescent, to crisis-affected populations, particularly women and children in Tripoli, Zintan, Yefrin, Nalut, Mezda, Al Reiba and Al Zawia. Further deliveries of humanitarian assistance to these areas are currently being prepared.
In eastern Libya, WFP has now reached more than 200,000 people - mainly internally displaced people, foreign migrants and other vulnerable groups with more than 665 metric tons of 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 three-month, US$42 million emergency operation that will provide food assistance to more than 1 million people in Libya and neighbouring countries.
WFP has deployed experts on the ground in Libya to coordinate and strengthen logistics and telecommunications for the humanitarian community as part of Special Operations costing US$4 million. Emergency Telecommunications experts have been deployed to Benghazi to provide data and voice services, and reduce disruptions amid power cuts.
WFP is concerned about access to food for people stranded in areas heavily affected by the fighting, internally displaced people, third country nationals and vulnerable groups.
WFP is also concerned about food security and the future of the public food distribution system in Libya as food stocks in the country are being consumed without replenishment. The longer the conflict lasts, the more likely that the number of those in need of food assistance will increase. A recent inter-agency mission found that food stocks in the eastern parts of the country are not being replenished at normal rates and the current stocks are enough for up to two months only. Libya is a net food importing country and if the import capacity is not restored quickly, this could lead to a massive food availability problem for the entire population of eastern Libya.