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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid