WHO says Libya needs humanitarian aid

World Health Organisation says humanitarian response to Libya’s health needs should not wait for unity government

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People arrive at World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 25, 2016.

Updated Jan 29, 2016

Humanitarian response to Libya’s urgent health needs should not wait for a unity government to be formed as country’s healthcare system is about to collapse, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Libya Jaffar Hussain stated on Wednesday.

"The member states are willing to support, but they are waiting for a government of national accord to be in place," Hussain said.

"The humanitarian response should not wait for that, it should not be linked to the political process, it may take weeks, it may take months, it may take years. We don't know," he added.

"We will end up with massive outbreaks, we will end up with mortality and morbidity rates rising exponentially and we will end up compromising the health and the future of the people of Libya if you don't act now."

According to WHO, an estimated 1.9 million of the country’s 6.3 million total population are in need of urgent health assistance while lack of electricity, shortage of medicine and inadequacy of the number of medical staff hamper efforts.

Rival Tobruk Government’s Health Minister Reida El Oakley also emphasized the urgency of the situation saying "I think the international community, including the UN, should divorce the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people away from any political dialogue."

"Anything short of that I would consider to be a crime. It is a crime, actually,” he continued.

Libya suffers from turmoil as it is currently divided between two parliaments after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with the General National Council (GNC) administering the country’s capital, Tripoli, and the rival House of Representatives being located in Tobruk.  

Oakley’s latest comments came only days after the Libya's Tobruk-based parliament voted to reject a UN-backed unity government, in a major blow to international efforts to end the unrest in the country.

A national unity government headed by businessman Fayez al Sarraj and comprising 32 ministers was formed last week, but the rival House of Representatives in Tobruk needs to approve it for it to start working.

TRTWorld and agencies