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Libya: UN revises appeal for humanitarian assistance to more than $400 million

18 May 2011 – The United Nations today called for an extra $233 million to help more than 2 million civilians caught up in the conflict in Libya, revising its earlier humanitarian appeal as the scale of the suffering and need continues to increase.

The revised appeal, launched in Geneva, calls for $408 million to fund the operations of UN aid agencies and humanitarian partners in Libya until the start of September as senior officials with the world body warn that the situation could worsen in the weeks ahead.

The original flash appeal, issued in early March shortly after fighting broke out between opposition groups and military forces supporting the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi, had called for $160 million. So far, about $175 million has been provided by donors.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said aid operations are needed both inside Libya and in neighbouring States such as Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and Chad, where many third-country nationals have fled to escape the fighting. The number of people who have fled the country has passed 800,000.

Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said “the conflict, the breakdown of State infrastructure and shortages of cash and fuel are causing serious problems for the population of Libya.”

Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, added that the shortages “are paralyzing the country in ways which will gravely impact the general population in the weeks and months ahead.”

She voiced particular concern for the situation in the city of Misrata, which has been besieged by pro-Qadhafi forces for weeks and where fighting has been especially heavy.

“Some people [residents] are running short of food, water and other basics,” Ms. Amos said, reiterating earlier calls for a pause in hostilities in Misrata to allow relief supplies to be brought in and the wounded to be evacuated.

Aside from the shortages of basic supplies, many areas of Libya are also running short of key personnel, particularly trained health-care providers.

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