Aid agencies waiting to access Libya

Amina with her son

Amina with her son

Humanitarian agencies are waiting at Libyan border posts to gain access to people who have been affected by the ongoing instability in the North African country.

A popular uprising by pro-democracy rebels has been bolstered by an aerial bombing campaign mounted by countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France.  Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Sambira:  Heavy fighting has been reported in Western Libya in major cities like Misrata and Ajdebya and it is thought that many people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

On Libya’s eastern border, Egyptian authorities are already facilitating the entry of relief supplies.

The World Food Programme has air lifted portable warehouses as part of a regional contingency plan.

Emilia Casella of WFP says the agency is concerned about the lack of food inside Libya.

Casella :  “The price of wheat and bread has more than doubled. The price of rice has gone up 88%, oil about 58 percent and the vast majority of the shops in places such as Zawiya, Misrata and Sirte have been closed. So there is a great concern about the ability for people to access the food that is in the country and whether or not there is enough food in the country for those who need it.”

Sambira: In the eastern part of Libya, thousands of people have taken refuge in homes and schools.

Some 40,000 more are said to have crossed over to Egypt and Tunisia, says Adrian Edwards of the UN’s Refugee Agency or UNHCR.

“Edwards:  Libyans at the Egyptian border told UNHCR they feared reprisal attacks by pro-government supporters in eastern parts of the country. One man returned to Ajdabiya over the weekend to find four rockets had flattened his home, he then had to return back to the border. Mobile phone networks had not been working since Thursday, increasing the sense of uncertainty.”

Sambira:  Edwards of UNHCR says providing humanitarian assistance under the current circumstances had become very challenging.

Efforts to repatriate African migrants continue according to the International Organization for Migration, IOM.

9,700 sub-Saharan African migrants have crossed into Niger from Libya but there are many more stuck inside the country.

Jemini Pandya is from the IOM.

Pandya:  “ Migrants who had arrived in Daikou have told us that many tens of thousands of other African migrants stranded in the city of Sabha-Libyan city- because they don’t have any means of obtaining transport to actually escape.”

Sambira: African migrants have come under attack in Libya from anti-government supporters seeking to overthrow Muammar Qadhafi’s 42 year rule.

IOM says that a convoy of over 70 trucks carrying African migrants is expected to cross into Niger within the next few days.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’23″

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