UN Ramps Up Efforts to Gain Humanitarian Access Inside Libya

Rashid Khalikov, then director of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, delivers remarks during a March 29, 2009, session of the U.N. Security Council. Now, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, Khalikov says the global body is negotiating with all parties involved in the Libyan conflict so the provision of assistance to affected communities can begin "as soon as possible." Photo by: Jenny Rockett / United Nations

The United Nations hopes the Libyan government will grant it humanitarian access in order to reach thousands who are affected by violence in the Arab nation. An envoy of the global agency said the U.N. is negotiating with all parties involved in the Libyan conflict so the provision of assistance to affected communities can begin “as soon as possible.” 

“Nothing is on the table … the situation is very fluid and unpredictable,” Rashid Khalikov, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, was quoted by Reuters as saying in a news conference in Tunis. “Timeframe, I can give you only one timeframe: as quickly as possible because we have to do something to reduce the suffering of the population … Dialogue is continuing with the parties to the conflict and will continue as long as will be required,” he said.

>> UN in Talks with Libya Over Humanitarian Access

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has also voiced a similar concern.

It is “essential that humanitarian access is provided to all people in need throughout Libya,” Guterres said Thursday (March 31) before concluding his trip to Egypt.

Relief efforts

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation said it is working with the Arab Medical Union to help provide medical supplies and food aid to conflict victims in Libya.

Norway is providing $1.4 million to the World Health Organization to help distribute medical supplies in Libya, while the U.K. says it will provide emergency shelter to more than 10,000 displaced people. 

Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday (March 30) at the invitation of Libyan authorities to discuss the expansion of humanitarian activities in the entire country, the ICRC said on Friday.

“The first discussions were substantial and encouraging,” said Jean-Michel Monod, head of the ICRC team in Tripoli, according to Reuters.

Médecins Sans Frontières, meanwhile, is looking to scale up its relief efforts in Libya amid escalating violence there.

“We are currently looking at all possibilities to increase support to health facilities in order to respond to urgent medical needs, both inside and outside government-controlled areas,” Laurent Ligozat, MSF’s director of operations, said in a statement. “As the frontline keeps shifting, our priority is to gain access to areas where the needs are greatest.” 

The European Council says it is ready to conduct military operations to support relief efforts in Libya if such an initiative is requested of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Foreign ministers agreed to establish a group that will coordinate the international community’s response to the political crisis in the North African country in last week’s U.K.-hosted international conference for Libya.

>> International Leaders Set Up Group to Coordinate Libyan Crisis Response

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About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.