by Christiane Berthiaume
MISRATA— The ship first set sail from Benghazi in early July bearing a cargo of humanitarian personnel as well as several hundred tons of food. This marks an important step forward for the aid effort in Misrata, which has been cut off from the rest of the country by road.
“WFP normally charters and manages cargo vessels, not passenger vessels,” explains WFP Regional Logistics Coordinator Riaz Lodhi. “Finding a vessel that could transport both passengers and cargo when most vessels in this area are trying to steer clear of the war zone was a big challenge.”
Food security is threatened for many in the devastated Western Mountain region of Libya according to the first UN join mission to access the area. Find out more in the latest Operational Update
The new ferry service makes an average of two trips per week and has only been launched for one month. However, Lodhi says that it could easy continue after July if it’s needed.
The benefit of this vessel is that in addition to the passengers it can also carry 300 to 400 metric tons of humanitarian assistance.
Access to Misrata for the humanitarian community represents a huge challenge as the road from Benghazi to Misrata has been cut off by the fighting. The only way to reach Misrata, Libya’s third largest city, is by sea.
Since April 7, WFP has shipped enough food into Misrata to feed 125,000 people. As the lead agency of the UN logistics cluster, WFP has transported crucial medical and humanitarian supplies in addition to food and people.
Since the beginning of the emergency, WFP has distributed food to more than 543,000 people across the country.
Working with partners, including the Libyan Red Crescent, more than 282,000 people in eastern Libya, and 261,000 in western Libya have received food assistance.