Libya faces a humanitarian crisis due to heavy fighting and food supplies are not being adequately replenished, said UN agency the World Food Programme (WFP).
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier up to 3.6 million people in Libya may need humanitarian assistance as rebels press their fight against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“Libya faces a humanitarian crisis following an unprecedented level of upheaval and violence,” the WFP said in a statement.
“The future of the public subsidised food distribution system in Libya is very worrying to WFP and food security partners.”
Aid agencies have been struggling to reach civilians in the cities of Benghazi and Misrata, where residents and migrant workers have faced shortages of basic foodstuffs, a lack of medical supplies and sporadic water and electricity supplies, Reuters reports.
“According to available information, mainly from the eastern parts of the country, the food that is in the country is being consumed, without being adequately replenished,” the WFP said.
“This means that less food is likely to be available to the general population, as well as vulnerable groups, and the number of those in need of food assistance could increase dramatically.”
The WFP said the rebel-held eastern ports of Tobruk and Benghazi were reported to be fully functional.
“There is an urgent need for commercial liners to resume operations to these ports as this will facilitate humanitarian deliveries and commercial imports of basic items as well,” it said.
A vessel carrying enough food for 40 000 people for a month, chartered by the WFP, reached Misrata last week.
“Access to Western Libya is limited and WFP is concerned for areas that have no access to replenish basic supplies,” it said, adding that it was trying, in consultation with the Red Cross and the Libyan Red Crescent, to organise deliveries and provide humanitarian assistance to such areas.