Libya food crisis 2 months away - UN

2011-04-28 22:59

Geneva - Libya will suffer a large-scale food crisis within two months unless stocks are replenished and distribution networks are supported, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The North African country has sufficient stocks for only 45 to 60 days, after which many people will be forced to cut back on meals, said the World Food Programme's regional director Daly Belgasmi.

The most vulnerable, including children, pregnant women, sick people and the elderly, are likely to be worst affected, Belgasmi told reporters in Geneva.

Already at least 600 000 in the country need food assistance, he said.

Libya imports more than half of its food and the conflict between Muammar Gaddafi's government and rebels has badly disrupted supply lines, according to a report by several UN aid agencies.

Among the biggest problems are the closure of commercial ports such as Misrata, the lack of hard currency as the value of the Libyan dinar plummets, and the sharp rise in fuel prices that is driving up the cost of food. In northwest Libya prices have increased by up to 40%, according to WFP.

Belgasmi said the exodus of 500 000 foreign labourers since the start of the conflict has added to the problem, as thousands worked in food production such as bakeries that now struggle to stay open.

Government-run distribution networks for the poor have also come under pressure, he said.

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