WFP ship delivers vital humanitarian assistance at frontline of Libya conflict

A World Food Programme (WFP) cargo ship carrying food, medical supplies, doctors and other relief items has docked in Misrata, opening up a new humanitarian lifeline to civilians trapped in the Libyan conflict.

“This is a breakthrough for the UN humanitarian operation in Libya and allows us to reach tens of thousands of people who are caught in one of the fiercest areas of conflict,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran.  “It is vital that we get these relief supplies to the vulnerable – especially women and children – and we are working with local partners, including the Libyan Red Crescent, to ensure their needs are met.”

The WFP chartered vessel, Marianne Danica, docked in Misrata this afternoon carrying more than 600 metric tons of food including wheat flour, vegetable oil and High Energy Biscuits – enough to feed more than 40,000 people for a month.

The ship is also delivering medical supplies on behalf of UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.  These UNICEF and WHO emergency health kits and surgical material will cover the urgent needs for 50,000 people for a month, along with materials to enable thousands of children to play in the relative safety of indoors. Two doctors are on board and will disembark at Misrata.  Once offloaded, the cargo will be delivered to the main hospital in Misrata.

“The situation is urgent for tens of thousands of children in Misrata and across Libya, who are potential victims of the fighting or who have already paid a terrible price,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “These supplies are a lifeline to them and all those trapped in the fighting.”

WFP began moving food supplies into Libya soon after the conflict erupted and has pre-positioned 16,500 metric tons of food stocks inside the country as part of a US$42 million emergency operation that will provide food assistance to more than 1 million people in Libya and neighbouring countries.  Working with partners like the Libyan Red Crescent, WFP plans to provide food to more than 600,000 people inside Libya over the next three months.

“The operation in Libya is complex and dangerous, but we are exploring every possible avenue to get food to the hungry,” Sheeran added.  “This means moving food assistance and other relief supplies by road from Egypt, and by sea into the main ports along Libya’s Mediterranean coastline.”

As the lead logistics and telecommunications agency in the UN humanitarian system, WFP is providing transport and communications support for the entire humanitarian community in Libya.