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UN Humanitarian Chief: Libyan Civilians Under Fire, Face Widespread Shortages

  • Larry Freund

A Libyan refugee who fled unrest in Libya sit inside her tent at a refugee camp near the southern Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Dehiba May 8, 2011.

A Libyan refugee who fled unrest in Libya sit inside her tent at a refugee camp near the southern Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Dehiba May 8, 2011.

The head of the United Nations humanitarian aid program said Monday that Libya is facing widespread shortages and she called for a pause in the fighting in that country to allow international aid agencies to address humanitarian concerns.

The humanitarian aid chief at the United Nations, Valerie Amos, told the U.N. Security Council that the the breakdown of infrastructure, and shortages of cash and fuel are causing serious problems for the Libyan people. Amos said more than 746,000 people, most of them third-country nationals, have fled Libya. She said some 5,000 people are stranded at border points in Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. About 58,000 internally displaced people are living in settlements in eastern Libya.

Amos said widespread shortages are paralyzing Libya in ways that will seriously affect the general population in the months ahead, particularly the poorest and the most vulnerable. She said that despite repeated U.N. requests, civilians in Libya are still coming under fire. "This has to stop. The Security Council must continue to insist that all parties respect international humanitarian law and insure civilians are spared. The reported use of cluster bombs, sea and land mines as well as deaths and injuries caused by aerial bombing show a callous disregard for the physical and psychological well-being of civilians," she said.

Amos called on all sides in the fighting to agree to a temporary ceasefire in Misrata and other areas.

The U.N. humanitarian chief said that $144 million has been raised for relief work in Libya, less than half of what is needed, although she indicated that additional funds will be requested in the days ahead.

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