ROME -- WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran has called on the world to step up action to avert a humanitarian disaster on Libya's borders and called for safe humanitarian access to the country itself.
“Standing on the Libya border with tens of thousands fleeing violence I realized that unless the world acts we may be facing an historic human tragedy,” Sheeran said while at the Tunisia-Libya border on Tuesday to meet local authorities, aid organisations, and people who have fled violence in Libya.
WFP has launched a three-month emergency appeal for $39.2m to assist people fleeing violence in Libya, she noted, referring to an operation that will provide food assistance for 1.06 million people in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya itself if there is safe humanitarian access. Read more about WFP's response
"We call for safe humanitarian access, especially to western Libya. Cutting off food supplies must not be used as a weapon," Sheeran said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Sheeran's visit to the border crossing point came a day after a WFP-chartered plane landed in the Tunisian city of Djerba carrying 80 tons of High Energy Biscuits for the tens of thousands of migrant workers arriving in Tunisia from Libya. The first truckload of the biscuits reached the border area on Tuesday.
More than 85,000 people have crossed into Tunisia in the past week, and many of the arrivals say they have had limited access to food during the journey from their homes and workplaces in Libya. Local communities and organisations such as the Tunisian Red Crescent are providing the people who arrive with food and other supplies.
"I have pledged WFP’s support to partner with the Red Crescent and others to help provide food assistance to those fleeing violence and to prepare for what may be needed in the days and weeks ahead inside Libya," Sheeran said.