Humanitarian aid plea for Libya goes virtually unanswered

2 Feb 16

A United Nations-backed humanitarian appeal for Libya has achieved barely 1% of its needed funding almost two months after its launch, a senior UN official for the North African country warned today.


Ali Al-Za’atari, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya, urged the international community to step up to the plate and send funds to the humanitarian effort to support 1.3 million vulnerable people in the country over 2016.

“With winter temperatures plunging and funding support for the Libya humanitarian response plan stagnant, I am increasingly concerned that vulnerable, conflict-affected people in Libya will continue to suffer due to a lack of meaningful and timely support.

“The gallant efforts of Libyan organisations, public or civic, whether on their own or with external aid, are not enough to meet the demands of the many affected by the conflict,” he said.

The appeal was launched on 9 December 2015 and asked for some $166m to be targeted towards supporting the most vulnerable half of the 2.3 million people affected by conflict in Libya.

Al-Za’atari said, “crudely put”, this amounts to around $127 per person over a 15-month period. However six weeks later, only a “paltry” $2.1m had been received from just two donors – just 1% of the overall amount required.

The European Commission has provided just over £1.1m to the appeal, while Italy has delivered just under $985,000. Separately, France has also provided £264,550 for medical supplies to Benghazi Medical Centre. The appeal has no pledges promising future funding.

Al-Za’atari noted that the international community is rallying to provide support and multi-million pound projects for the country’s unity government, which was formed from the opposing parties in a UN-backed agreement last December in hopes of ending four years of civil war.

“This should be applauded and encouraged,” said Al-Za’atari. “Vital humanitarian funding, however, is conspicuous by its absence. I am appealing today to the international community, on behalf of the most vulnerable in Libya, for a hand up and not a hand out. The humanitarian situation needs to be addressed now.”

Al-Za’atari had already raised the alarm once before in December as its funding appeal went unanswered.

At that time, around 1.3 million Libyans were estimated to be food insecure, with many more also in need of protection, health care, food, shelter or some other form of humanitarian assistance.

The situation in areas like Benghazi, described by the head of the UN support mission in Libya (UNSMIL) as a “wasteland”, is particularly dire.

The humanitarian community’s 2014/15 appeal for Libya, which asked for $36m, received only $13.4m, or 37% of the needed funds.

Throughout 2014/15 the appeal received over $5m from Japan and the European Commission. The UN’s emergency fund provided $4.8 and other UN agencies used $3.2 worth of earmarked funds for Libya. Other big donors included the US ($4.2m), Switzerland ($2.02m), Denmark ($1.6), Sweden ($1.5m) and Korea ($1m). 

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