UNHCR has announced it will be distributing more emergency aid in Tripoli to help the most vulnerable during Ramadan, as war and the novel coronavirus pandemic increase difficulties for many.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR announced on May 3 that it would be beginning "a series of extra emergency distributions in Tripoli, to assist some of the most vulnerable people during Ramadan, as war and COVID-19 present new threats."
first distribution took place on Sunday to 100 people in a deprived
area of Tripoli where many live without sufficient water or
sanitation. Some of those helped on May 3 told UNHCR staff they had
recently been released from detention in Libya. Many of them had been
working as day laborers but due to restrictions placed on them by the
measures taken to combat the coronavirus, they had lost their only
source of income.
Food for a month
Each package, stated the UNHCR press release, contains a food parcel designed to sustain someone for one month, water purification tablets, from fellow UN Agency UNICEF, and a hygiene kit.
The agency is aiming to reach 500 people by the end of the first week and to have provided aid to about 4,000 by the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting.
Jean-Paul Cavalieri, the UNHCR Chief of Mission in Libya said: "We recognize that daily life in Libya is terribly difficult, for Libyans as well as refugees and asylum seekers." Cavalieri said that war and COVID-19 had just made things “even more challenging."
'Ramadan is a time to show solidarity'
Cavalieri continued that "Ramadan is an important time to show solidarity when people are really struggling with their daily needs." He said that the lack of work meant that many who had been getting by were "unable to […] support themselves"
As well as food packages, UNHCR said that they were also providing extra help with the Libyan health care system, which had been severely impacted by the conflict. "Many hospitals or health facilities, located in areas close to the conflict, have also been damaged or closed."
press release stated that the UNHCR and partners are providing "generators, ambulances, pre-fab containers and tented clinics in
support of local health care services across the country." Core
relief items, including soap, have been distributed in Misrata and
Benghazi to try and help at least 20,000 displaced people. "Several
detention centers where hygiene conditions are very poor," have
also been targeted with relief.
As well as physical aid, UNHCR and its partners have stepped up their public information campaigns, aiming to inform migrants about how to protect themselves against being infected with the novel coronavirus.
Public health campaign
video, a UNHCR volunteer Suleiman, originally from Somalia, tells
refugees to "stay at home, wash your hands, and please take care of
yourselves." Suleiman is working with the UNHCR in Libya "to
protect refugees from the coronavirus," explains the video.
Suleiman and the other volunteers share tips via WhatsApp
about how to help protect
themselves and others.
Other agencies are also distributing food and aid in Tripoli and
beyond. IOM Libya tweeted on April 30 that
it was busy distributing aid to 150 migrants in Tripoli
alongside the World Food