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Libyan Conflict Escalates, So Too Does Hunger

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Many thousands of people are fleeing the conflict in Libya. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is working to feed these victims of war.

When conflict escalates, so too does hunger. Food supply chains inevitably break down with the chaos. WFP says it has “moved more than 1,500 metric tons of food into Eastern Libya and pre-positioned more than 6,000 metric tons of food in emergency supplies.”

The agency is also mobilizing to meet growing humanitarian needs. Prefabricated warehouses and mobile offices to coordinate relief are being shipped into the area.

WFP is feeding the displaced who cross over the border from Libya into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt. At the Choucha camp on the Libyan-Tunisia border, WFP has “two full kitchens operational and the capacity to provide up to 25,000 meals daily.”

Feeding the displaced is very much a team effort with WFP, charities and Tunisian communities coming to the rescue. Abeer Etefa, WFP spokesperson says, “Local communities are showing great generosity and solidarity, providing the people who arrive with food and other supplies.” WFP is also planning to provide hot meals for people stranded on the Libyan-Egyptian border.

Feeding those who have fled Libya is just one part of the relief mission. There are those trapped inside the conflict-torn country in need of aid. Reports are disturbing.

A WFP survey found “that food prices in Libya had increased sharply in recent weeks, with the price of flour more than doubling, rice by 88 percent, vegetable oil by 58 percent and bread by over 110 percent. It was also reported that 95 percent of shops in areas like Zawiya, Misrata and Sirte were closed.”

What is critical for the Libyan crisis is to keep food supply chains moving. WFP has appealed for 39.2 million dollars from the international community to fund this relief.

The UN food agency is already drastically short of funding for its global operations. There are also many other crisis points where food needs are great. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Benin, Sudan, Yemen and many other countries face great reconstruction and peace challenges. Food security is something all these countries lack and desperately need.

In the United States Congress the recent House proposed budget called for slashing international food aid, one of the most critical aspects of foreign policy.

Right now there is no end in sight for the conflict in Libya. Humanitarian aid will remain a significant and ever so vital challenge. Josette Sheeran, the WFP director, said, “Standing on the Libya border with tens of thousands fleeing violence I realized that unless the world acts we may be facing an historic human tragedy.”

For more information visit the World Food Programme web site.

Video of WFP hunger relief in the Libya-Tunisia border area

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.