Humanitarian needs in the Nafusa mountains in western Libya remain critical, United Nations agencies reported today at the end of their first mission to the area, where they made an assessment of safety and access to civilians who require emergency assistance.
“The humanitarian situation in the Nafusa mountains remains a top concern,” Panos Moumtzis, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya. “It remains imperative for UN humanitarian organisations to have continued access to the Nafusa mountains to conduct in-depth assessment missions to accurately and impartially determine the needs of the affected population and respond accordingly,” he added.
The UN team visited the towns of Wazin and Nalut yesterday and Jadu and Zintan today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a press release.
The conflict in Libya has spread to several towns in the Nafusa mountains, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) reported that more than 100,000 people have fled the fighting in the area since Libya descended into conflict four months ago. They remain internally displaced, while more than 64,000 others have sought refuge in neighbouring Tunisia.
The inter-agency mission, which was comprised of OCHA, UNHCR, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), saw the widespread destruction of property in the border town of Wazin, from where the vast majority of the population had fled due to persistent shelling.
In Nalut and other areas, the mission observed limited power and water supplies and heard accounts from the local community of dwindling food supplies, lack of cash, jobs and functioning markets.
“Food needs for the Nafusa mountains remain serious,” said Ussama Osman of WFP. “The vast majority of the affected population now relies on food assistance,” he said, adding that WFP will continue to provide food aid to those who need it most in the area.
UNICEF voiced concern over the humanitarian situation facing children in the Nafusa mountains, particularly health, access to clean water, protection and education. The agency said it will ensure that a vaccination campaign is carried out.
UNHCR is drawing up future repatriation plans for the eventual voluntary return of the thousands of Libyan refugees when security conditions permit.