Up to 1 million foreign workers and others trapped in Libya are expected to need emergency aid because of fighting in the North African nation, aid officials said Monday as they sought $160 million to deal with the crisis.
U.N. officials say that amount will only fill aid needs for the next three months — and they expect the crisis to go on longer than that. The U.N. is also effectively frozen out of sections controlled by leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and is only seeking humanitarian aid for opposition-controlled areas.
“This appeal is based on a planning scenario projecting up to 400,000 people leaving Libya — including the 200,000 who have left to date — and another 600,000 people inside Libya expected to need humanitarian aid,” said Valerie Amos, the U.N.’s humanitarian and emergency coordination chief.
The U.N. appeal says the money is for camp coordination and management, food security, nutrition, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene.
At least 213,000 foreign workers have fled Libya’s violence and hundreds of thousands more are expected to follow over the next three months, according to Amos and international migration officials.
As part of the emergency appeal by 17 U.N. and other aid organizations, the International Organization for Migration is seeking at least $49.2 million for 65,000 migrant workers scrambling to leave Libya, spokeswoman Jemini Pandya said.
“This still only scratches the surface,” Pandya said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he’s deeply concerned about the plight of the many migrant workers and other civilians who are bearing the brunt of the fighting in Libya, particularly in the western portion that includes Gadhafi’s stronghold in the capital, Tripoli.
Ban appointed former Jordanian foreign minister Abdelilah Al-Khatib as his special envoy to Libyan and urged authorities to ensure the safety of all foreigners and provide unhindered access for humanitarian aid.
He also called for an immediate halt to what he called Gadhafi’s “disproportionate use of force and indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets.”
Pandya said there were about 1.5 million foreign migrant workers inside Libya before fighting began, along with thousands of Libyan refugees and asylum seekers — so eventually many more millions in aid might be needed.
“We know more migrant workers will flee,” she said, adding that the 213,000 migrant workers who already left represent only 15 percent of Libya’s foreign population. “So there are still a lot of people stuck inside the country.”
Most of those fleeing have crossed Libya’s borders into Tunisia, Egypt and Niger.
“We don’t want to see a situation where people cross the borders and spend many more days at the border having to wait to be evacuated,” Pandya said Monday. “Many of them are psychologically traumatized by what’s happened to them. We have to help them so they don’t linger and fall into these no man’s lands.”
Source: The Associated Press.