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UNHCR Aids Western Libya

UNHCR Aids Western Libya
Over the past few weeks, what started as a confrontation between militias in Libya, has slowly escalated to a point that concerns various countries: that Libya will deteriorate and become a full-fledged failed state. As a result, for the first time, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has sent aid to those in Western Libya.

The UNHCR has estimated that their supplies will reach around 12,000 people who have been internally displaced since the conflict reignited a few weeks ago. Members of the UNHCR aid Western Libya with vital supplies like blankets, sleeping bags and various medical equipment. The majority of the aid has been dropped off at Zawiya, which is offering shelter to the refugees and is located about 45 kilometers to the east of Tripoli.

Saado Quol, the acting chief of mission in Libya for the UNHCR, said that “This weekend’s operation is crucial and, we hope, paves the way for other humanitarian aid to reach affected populations who are stranded and in dire need of assistance.”

The current conflict was recently reignited about a month ago, starting with small-scale fighting and combat between a couple militias over control of the Tripoli airport. Since then, fighting has increased exponentially to the surrounding areas, causing an international response and certain nations pulling their diplomats from the country. It has also caused disruption in the supplies of food, water and food to civilians. The Red Cross and Red Crescent have estimated that at least two million people are at risk of food shortages.

The flight of diplomats and foreign assistance has only worsened the situation. This recent batch of aid is a step in the right direction of helping, but other nations need to increase, not decrease, their presence if they desire a safe and lasting conclusion to the instability in the country.

– Andre Gobbo

Sources: UNHCR, The Borgen Project, Foreign Policy, NY Times
Photo: UNHCR