News / Africa

Libyan Crisis Threatens Regional Food Security

Migrant workers who used to work in Libya and fled the recent unrest in the country, are seen in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, March 9, 2011,. (AP Image)
Migrant workers who used to work in Libya and fled the recent unrest in the country, are seen in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, March 9, 2011,. (AP Image)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The crisis in Libya could put food security at risk, not only in Libya, but in neighboring countries as well.

Daniele Donati, chief of the Emergency Operations Service for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, says, “They employ a lot of workers from neighboring countries.  And these people, they are now fleeing the country and they are back in their own countries of origin, mainly Egypt, Tunisia, to some extent also Niger and Algeria.”

Donati says it’s important to remember that the regional political turmoil now underway is due in part to what he calls “soaring food prices.”

He warns, “This kind of social instability is not completely over.  And it’s normally considered a symptom of a sort of a malaise, to use a French word.  Something like social fever, if you see what I mean.”

Migrant workers

Migrant workers in Libya have played a large role in the country’s food production.

“The largest proportion of the agricultural workers in Libya [were] all from Egypt.  Traditionally, the Libyan people, rural people, are pastoralists, rather than agriculturalists.  They are more concentrated on livestock than crops.  So the field workers are all from the neighbor countries and they left in large part,” he says.

The FAO is unable to make a full assessment of the situation in Libya because it lacks access to all parts of the country.

Donati says, “We need to assess a number of key variables.  But the presence of these…agricultural workers is extremely important to assess the capacity of the country to produce that part of the food budget that’s normally domestically produced.”

Imports

The U.N. agency says the region heavily depends on cereal imports.

“The different coastal countries in the Maghreb affected by this crisis, namely Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, they’re all characterized by a very heavy dependency [on] food imports, which doesn’t mean that agriculture is not important in their country.  It means agriculture in these countries is limited in terms of volume, but it’s key and strategic to feed people,” he says.

Donati estimates Libya’s dependence on imports to be as high as 80 percent.

“They import inflation.  If you have high food prices on international markets and your agricultural sector requires an integration of 80 percent to cover the consumption needs in the country, you systematically import inflation, increasing prices.  The price of maize on the international markets in the recent months has increased between 75 and 85 percent,” he says.

He adds that people, who depend on maize flour, have a “serious problem.”

The FAO says it plans to distribute vegetable seeds along with food aid in Libya in areas around cities and coasts.  The goal is to “boost consumption of fresh food and micronutrient intake.”

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid