News / Africa

Libya Needs Long-Term Humanitarian Assistance, Aid Groups Say

Multimedia

Mana Rabiee

As fighting continues in Libya between rebels and forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi, ordinary citizens are caught in the middle. Aid groups say the humanitarian situation in Libya has stabilized to a degree in recent weeks, but that entire cities and towns remain at risk for reliable food supplies and other basic services.  Relief agencies are looking to the long term in assessing Libya's humanitarian needs.

At the Islamic Relief USA call center just outside of Washington, the staff takes donations of humanitarian aid money for the Middle East over the telephone.  

The non-profit aid group operates a dozen food-distribution points along the Tunisian border, where Libyan families and foreign migrants have gathered in refugee camps.

Food needed

The group's Libyan-American spokesperson Asma Yousef has family in Benghazi, and recently visited some of the refugee camps in Tunisia.  She says the most urgent need for Libyans is among civilians still inside the country who are cut off from aid agencies.

"The main issue for Libyan cities right now is lack of food in areas that are surrounded or secluded or isolated from the outside world," noted Yousef.   

The cities most at risk, says Yousef, are in the Western Mountain region where fighting continues.  

Five months into the war, aid agencies say few civilians remain on the frontlines where the worst of the fighting is taking place.  But the crisis is creating a toll even beyond the armed conflict.

In Misrata, Libya's third largest city, a U.N. joint mission found the majority of people there are unable to buy enough food.  The mission said there is a shortage of supplies, little available cash and rising prices.

Cause for concern

Mark Bartolini directs the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at USAID.  The American government-funded relief agency has distributed nearly $80 million in food, medical and other humanitarian assistance inside Libya since the conflict began.

"Obviously there is still a lot of suffering," Bartolini noted.  "The needs have stabilized but it could go in any direction so we're obviously concerned."

One immediate concern is that the humanitarian crisis in Libya could worsen if the fighting escalates into the capital, Tripoli.

"Tripoli, we've been hearing reports about people having to wait in long lines at gas stations, lack of basic food necessities," Yousef added.

Long-term problems

There are long-term issues to worry about as well.  Bartolini says once the fighting is over, aid groups will have to make sure the institutions to provide basic services are in place.

"People who have been out in the frontlines, fighting - they're going to need jobs. Those are the kinds of things that can tear societies apart in the aftermath of a conflict," Bartolini said.

Just recently, the international community formally recognized the Libyan opposition as the country's "legitimate authority." That means potentially billions of dollars in frozen assets could be released to the opposition for humanitarian and other assistance.

But until that money is actually released, there will still be civilian needs to address. Islamic Relief USA says it has budgeted to continue providing aid through December.

You May Like

British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign Jihadists More

Audio Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid