Libyan Humanitarian, Reconstruction Programs: Where is the Money?

Libyans visit the ruins of fallen leader Muammar Gaddafi's house in Bab Al Aziziya compound in Libya. Photo by: Ammar Abd Rabbo / CC BY-NC

Confusion over the availability of funds from formerly frozen assets and donor contributions has put humanitarian aid programs and lifesaving initiatives in Libya on hold, aid and government officials have warned.

Donors are increasingly reluctant to provide additional money for humanitarian and reconstruction initiatives in the country because of the availability of billions of dollars in unfrozen Lbyan assets, IRIN reports. But the Libyan government says these assets have yet to be liquidated, the news agency adds.

Georg Charpentier, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Libya, said that as a result, the United Nations and its partners cannot scale up their lifesaving programs such as demining.

The United Nations still needs approximately $60 million to continue demining activities and other programs for the rest of the year, while the $334 million overall appeal of aid agencies remains 12 percent short, IRIN says.

But donors such as the European Union, U.K. Department for International Development and the U.S. Agency for International Development are reluctant to close the 12 percent gap, saying the money should come from other donors, IRIN notes. The donors also cited the availability of funds from unfrozen assets.

“It’s a very difficult call for us to make to decide to support emergency humanitarian activities while there is so much money that is just waiting to be allocated, and is not being allocated for political reasons,” IRIN quotes Bruno Rotival, head of the Libyan office of ECHO.

In September, the United Nations approved the unfreezing of billions of dollars in Libyan assets held in U.S., U.K., Dutch and French banks to help fund humanitarian aid and reconstruction programs in the country.

There are reports these funds have yet to be tapped for projects — with conflicting explanations why. Some observers say the interim government lacks the capability to quickly disburse the money it is receiving while others argue the National Transitional Council is waiting for a new government to be established before making any funding decisions, IRIN explains.

Meanwhile, the government said it has yet to receive the majority of the money.

“Numbers have been announced of money flowing into Libya and unfrozen assets, but unfortunately, we have not received them,” said Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the NTC, according to IRIN.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.