Rising concern over besieged city in eastern Libya
There’s rising concern for the lives of civilians on Thursday following the escalation of violence in Derna, eastern Libya, where air raids, shelling, and heavy ground clashes are being reported.
About 125,000 people in the city, which has been encircled by the Libyan National Army, are facing increasing hardship due to severe shortages of water, medical supplies and food, the UN’s humanitarian agencies said.
There are reports of civilian deaths and injuries, with residents being forbidden to leave the conflict zone.
The United Nations repeated its call for all warring parties to allow civilians to leave, and immediately enable “safe and unimpeded humanitarian access” in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.
New aid for drought-stricken families in Africa’s Sahel region
A new aid package worth $9.9 million was pledged by Sweden on Thursday to help drought-stricken families across Africa’s vast Sahel region.
The funds will be channelled through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with a focus on farmers and livestock herders in Burkina Faso and Mali — which are two the six most drought-affected countries in the region along with Chad, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
The lack of rain comes on top of drought last year, coupled with high food prices, conflict and unstable markets, all adding up to the worst lean season in four years.
Dominique Burgeon, FAO’s Director of Emergencies, said that the contribution from Sweden “will bring livelihood support to families when they need it most”.
He said that the contribution would enable FAO to support vulnerable communities over the next two years, “so they can get back on their feet and build their capacities to cope better with future shocks”.
Syria: UN voices concern over well-being of 130,000 people displaced from Afrin
Reports from Syria indicate that some 130,000 people have now been displaced by fighting from the northern district of Afrin, to nearby Tal Refaat and surrounding areas, since fighting erupted in January, said the UN on Thursday.
A Turkish military offensive against Kurdish forces, known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, began in Afrin, in late January.
The UN continues to provide emergency food, nutrition, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, as well as offering protection services to the displaced.
Despite the displacement, an estimated 3,000 people were reportedly able to return to Afrin around a week ago, while 200 people are apparently stranded, being denied the ability to go home to Afrin or to return to displacement camps.
The UN called on all parties to the conflict — and those with influence over them — to ensure freedom of movement, and allow for safe, sustained and unhindered access to those in need.