UN says Libya is facing lack of life-saving medicines

UN humanitarian official warns about brewing humanitarian crisis in Libya drawing attention to shortage of life-saving medicines

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Libyan aid convoy, which consists of 18 trucks and an ambulance carrying food and medicine, heads to the eastern city of Benghazi, amid deepening humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations warned on Monday about the deepening humanitarian situation in Libya, saying that the country could be faced with shortage of life-saving medicines in the upcoming days.

Deputy head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ali Al Za'tari, said "Our estimation is that by the end of march, Libya may run out of life saving medications which will impact about one million people.” during a press conference in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Al Za'tari is scheduled to meet with Egyptian officials, diplomats and Arab league personnel to discuss the ongoing situation in Libya.

During the meeting, it is expected that he will try to ask for more support, including financial aid and life-saving materials from the other countries for Libya.

According to Al Za'tari, medical supply stock of Libya will run out soon, as the country is struggling with a dire humanitarian situation.  

Nearly 200,000 people do not receive the required nutrition and thousands of others have been forced to leave their homes due to the political unrest and terrorism threat in some cities.

“If the international community does not respond immediately to improve the current humane situation in Libya, there will be problematic consequences not only on the Libyan arena, but in other countries as well,” Al Za'tari said.

A couple of days ago, he stated that a psychiatric care hospital in Benghazi has no medicine and scores of patients do not have access to proper care.

"It is really difficult for a hospital to continue like this in a town that is witnessing constant daily fighting in certain parts," he said during an interview with reporters.

He also said nearly 1,3 million people were waiting to receive humanitarian assistance.

"Today we are receiving requests from NGOs for food. That is not a good sign. It means you have a sizeable portion of the community requiring food intake that is stable food intake," said Al Za'tari.

He also pointed to the necessity of forming a political resolution in the country to soothe the humanitarian concerns.

“Whether humanitarian assistance is provided by the Libyan government or other countries, the situation is likely to become more complicated; we are seeking to put it at the top of the global agenda,” he told an Egyptian news agency.

According to Al Za'tari, considering the ongoing crisis in the region from Syria to Iraq to Yemen, it would be difficult to establish political stability.

"The perception is Libya is rich and can fend for itself. Libya is rich but it can’t fend for itself today," he said.

"It is not an easy story to sell and I admit it. I am living it. Telling people that Libya has a humanitarian situation makes them go back in their seats and say ‘no way’," he added.

Since the junta leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011, Libya has had two rival governments currently operating in the country. With the presence of DAESH affiliates in several areas of the country, security and humanitarian concerns have intensified.

Three weeks ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon announced a $100m fund from the Central Emergency Rescue Fund to rehabilitate the dire situation in Libya.

TRTWorld and agencies