WFP meets with Benghazi Mayor as it expands its support to conflict-hit Libya
TUNIS – Representatives of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have met the Mayor of Benghazi AbdelRahman el-Abbar, to discuss how best WFP and the United Nations can provide support to the country.
WFP also met the Port of Benghazi Maritime Authority to discuss issues relating to the port which is a critical entry point for the food and other humanitarian commodities entering the country. Without this access, it would be very difficult for WFP and other UN agencies to provide assistance to those vulnerable people in Libya and beyond who struggle to meet their basic needs due to ongoing conflict and instability.
“WFP and Benghazi have strong historical ties,” said WFP Country Director in Libya, Samer AbdelJaber after the meetings. “The port here provided a crucial corridor for bringing humanitarian assistance for people affected by the emergencies in Sudan and Chad. We now hope to make us of it to assist vulnerable peoples within Libya itself while, at the same time, helping to build the capacity of the local municipality.”
The Benghazi Mayor and WFP Country Director discussed needs in the region, including the expansion of partnerships with non-government organisations and the ways in which WFP can help provide food assistance by means of electronic food vouchers. They also talked about the possibility of launching school meals programme for children.
“As the situation in Libya changes, so must our response,” AbdelJaber added. “WFP is reshaping its operation in the country, with initiatives designed to support families in need, strengthening social safety nets and starting livelihoods activities, while continuing to provide emergency food assistance. We’re looking forward to working with the Mayor and his team to bring these new initiatives to eastern Libya as well.”
The conflict-hit area of Benghazi has been notoriously challenging to access, making it difficult for much-needed assistance to enter safely. WFP is therefore working with Tunisian and Libyan authorities to launch its humanitarian air service (UNHAS), which will facilitate regular flights from Tunisia to various locations in Libya, including Benghazi. UNHAS flights to and from Libya are likely to provide a significant boon to the international community’s presence inside the country.
Due to conflict and political instability, WFP, along with the entire Libya United Nations Country Team (UNCT), had been operating remotely from Tunisia since 2014. WFP was able to open an office in Tripoli in February after as the security situation improved. Last week’s meetings were greeted as a first step towards providing direct support to the eastern part of Libya.
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