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Libyan Displaced Receive Emergency Aid

In this Saturday, July 26, 2014 frame grab from video obtained from a freelance journalist traveling with the Misarata brigade, shows an airplane on the tarmac of the airport belching black smoke into the air during fighting between the Islamist Misarata brigade and a powerful rival militia, in Tripoli, Libya. The battle for control of Tripoli's international airport began two weeks ago when Islamist-led militias - mostly from the western city of Misrata - launched a surprise assault on the airport, under control of rival militias from the western mountain town of Zintan. Heavy clashes in the country’s restive east between Libyan soldiers loyal to a renegade general and Islamist-led militias killed dozens of people including civilians, health officials said Sunday. On Saturday, the U.S. evacuated its diplomats in Tripoli to neighboring Tunisia and shut its embassy. (AP Photo/AP video)

A U.N. truck convoy carrying emergency supplies for nearly seven-thousand displaced people arrived Monday in western Libya. The number of displaced is growing as fighting between rival factions and militias continues.

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There’s been heavy fighting in and around Tripoli since July and Benghazi since May. About 140,000 people are now believed displaced within Libya.

Dalia Al Achi, regional public information officer in North Africa for the UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, said, “The U.N. support mission and the human rights agency have released a report highlighting serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law – including arbitrary shelling, aerial attacks and targeting of civilians.”

Speaking from Tunis, she said many people in Libya now lack access to food and water, as well as medical supplies.

The seven truck convoy is a joint effort by the World Food Program and the UNHCR. It arrived Monday in the towns of Zintan, Gharyan and Tarhuna – south of Tripoli -- with 13-hundred food rations and hygiene kits. Each food ration is enough to feed a family of five for one month and includes wheat flour, pasta and tomato paste.

She said, “It will take around a week to be able to complete the distribution. And it is in collaboration with our partners, who are on the ground, to ensure that the assistance is actually delivered directly to the affected communities.”

The U.N. partners in Libya are Taher Al-Zawi and the IMC, the International Medical Corps.

It’s the second convoy the UNHCR has sent into Libya. The first took place in mid-August.

“We know that much more is needed and it actually requires our ability to get in the affected areas and reach out to affected communities. And also tat will enable us to really assess the needs and the situation on the ground, said Al Achi.

The UNHCR spokesperson said a number of factors are hindering humanitarian efforts. Airports are closed, as are Libya’s borders with Algeria and Egypt. For many who want to flee the country the only route is the Mediterranean – often a journey on unseaworthy boats or vessels operated by smugglers.

“We have seen increasing numbers of people departing from Libya – and also an increasing number of people dying at sea. One of our priorities is to prevent future tragedies at sea.”

The International Organization for Migration estimates about three-thousand people from Africa and the Middle East have