Libyan Conflict Is ‘Paralyzing’ Country, UN Aid Chief Says
The fighting in Libya and the international sanctions are “paralyzing” the country, causing widespread shortages of food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator said.
“The longer the current situation continues, the graver the humanitarian situation will become,” Valerie Amos told the UN Security Council today in New York. “The manner in which the sanctions are implemented and monitored is causing serious delays in the arrival of commercial goods.”
Amos appealed for a “temporary pause” in fighting to allow an assessment of needs, delivery of medical supplies and other aid, and the evacuation of the wounded.
The Libyan government refuses to accept a cease-fire unless the North Atlantic Treaty Organization halts its UN-authorized bombing campaign, according to Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the UN’s special envoy to the conflict. The rebels, meanwhile, won’t enter into any agreement with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi or his family, he said.
Amos said 58,000 people are living in “spontaneous” settlements in eastern Libya, and 746,000 have fled the country. The UN has no accurate figure on deaths since the unrest began in February, she said.
UN agencies received permission from the government to establish an office in the capital, Tripoli, and to deliver supplies to the besieged port city of Misrata in western Libya. While aid is reaching Misrata on an “ad hoc” basis, Amos said, Libyan security forces ransacked the UN office in Tripoli on May 1 and the staff was evacuated from the country.
The Qaddafi regime has committed to safeguard UN personnel and property, so Amos said aid workers would return to Tripoli as soon as possible and reopen land access to Misrata.
In the meantime, Amos also said desalination plants will soon run out of fuel, only 45 percent of pre-conflict medical staff are working, and most schools are closed, with no planning for the next academic year.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at email@example.com