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Humanitarian Aid Finally Reaches Libyan Port of Misrata

In this photo taken during a trip organized by Libyan authorities, a Libyan tank stands at in the outskirts of the coastal city of Misrata, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli, April 8, 2011

U.N. officials say a relief cargo ship carrying hundreds of tons of essential aid has arrived at the Libyan port city of Misrata.

United Nations officials say a ship chartered by the World Food Program docked at the Port of Misrata on Thursday and is currently being unloaded.

The vessel contains 800 tons of humanitarian aid for a number of U.N. agencies, including 600 metric tons of mixed food commodities and 100 metric tons of bottled water. WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella says the humanitarian agency will try to deliver more aid overland.

"In the coming days, we will also be trying to move in by road almost 2,000 metric tons of wheat flour from Egypt towards Benghazi as well as some vegetable oil. This is all part of the World Food Program’s role as the logistics lead in bringing in supplies for all the humanitarian community and the telecommunication’s lead as well," she said.

The ship also contains some 14 tons of medical equipment and medicine from the World Health Organization. The supplies include five emergency health kits, which will serve 50,000 people for three months, and 10 trauma kits for 5,000 people who need surgical treatment.

WHO also sent a surgeon and anesthetist to Misrata to help local medical staff deal with those wounded in the fighting.

The United Nations Children’s Fund also sent tons of essential relief items on the ship. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixi Mercado says the supplies include emergency health kits and enough surgical material to help 30,000 people for one month.

"In addition, UNICEF sent play kits for children so as to enable them to play in the relative safety of indoors," she said. "There have been consistent reports of sniper fire hitting children in Misrata. Children’s long enforced confinement indoors and hence out of school necessitates psychological relief from the conflict. UNICEF is also responding to needs in eastern Libya through the delivery of health kits and hygiene kits for tens of thousands of affected and displaced people through partnerships with NGO’s in Benghazi."

Mercado says UNICEF is deeply concerned about the large number of landmines and explosive remnants of war that pose a threat to children and their families.

She says there are reports that eastern Libya is littered with massive amounts of unexploded ordnance, abandoned and unsecured weapons and munitions, as well as recently laid landmines.