UN: Libya needs $202 million to bring life-saving aid to half a million people hit by humanitarian crisis

Many migrant children are kept in detention centres in Libya

The United Nations and its aid partners, together with the interim Government of Libya, launched on Tuesday a humanitarian response plan (HRP), appealing for $202 million to bring urgent life-saving assistance to some 550,000 women, children and men affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, UN said in a statement. 

The protracted political crisis that started in 2011 with demonstrations leading to the fall of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has developed into an armed conflict, forcing tens of thousands of families into displacement, and driving over a million people to depend on aid to survive as they are unable to afford the most basic things.

The UN Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro and Dr. Milad Al Taher, Minister of Local Governance, launched the plan at an event in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, alongside Fayez al-Sarraj, President of the Presidency Council, and Dr. Ghassan Salame, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

“Years of instability and insecurity have taken a toll on the wellbeing of many children, women and men in Libya. Each passing year, people struggle to withstand the impact of a crisis that has destabilized the country, put them in harm’s way, and ravaged the economy.” said Ms. Ribeiro.

In the foreword to the HRP, Ms. Ribeiro stressed: “Libya is now producing well over one million barrels of oil a day. However, this has not yet translated into tangible benefits for people. “Many Libyans get poorer every year. Basic health and education services decay, and frustrated citizens cannot understand why oil production and increased government revenue does not lead to improved living standards, security and well-being for all in Libya”.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA), today, some 823,000 people, including around 248,000 children, are still in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes internally displaced persons and returnees, conflict-affected people, host communities and refugees and migrants who face grave human rights violations and abuse in the absence of rule of law.

The majority of people in need are in highly populated urban areas in the western and eastern regions of Libya. However, people with the most critical and severe needs are in the coastal area of Sirt and in the southern parts of the country (Murzuq, Sebha and Alkufra) where access is difficult due to violence and instability.

The funds required in the 2019 HRP are meant to provide food, health care, protection especially from buried explosive hazards which threaten the lives of entire communities, water and sanitation services, shelter, basic household items, and emergency education support for the most vulnerable.

In terms of food, the plan aims to provide immediate life-saving food supplies, but also support longer term recovery with the distribution of seeds, tools and other inputs for farming and fishing communities.

If adequately funded, humanitarian agencies will set up emergency medical teams and dispatch mobile teams to areas where medical staff is limited, to reinforce disease surveillance and control.

Water and sanitation is a high priority in detention centres which are crowded and unsanitary, schools in marginalized areas and camps for internally displaced people and refugees. Families in need of shelter will receive construction materials but also cash assistance – in the form of emergency grants, rental subsidies and actual cash.

“Ultimately, the future of Libya is very much in the hands of the Libyans… and many efforts are ongoing in this regard,” said Ms. do Valle Ribeiro. “But right now, while people are suffering, it is absolutely critical that the international community work together with national partners to make sure vulnerable people are supported and protected.”

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