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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora