Geneva/ Ras Lanuf: The United Nations (UN) called on Monday for $160 million to cover the needs of those who have fled Libya as well as others who remained trapped in the strife-torn North African country.
The appeal is expected to cover relief support including shelter, food, transportation, water and sanitation for up to one million people for the next three months.
“This appeal is based on 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 to varying degrees,” said Valerie Amos, UN aid chief.
“I hope that this appeal receives a favourable response from donors, which will enable us to continue to support those in need,” added the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.
The appeal will be revised in two weeks, said the UN.
Tens of thousands of mostly migrant workers have been streaming out to bordering countries, including Tunisia and Egypt, in a bid to escape violence in Libya.
An estimated 100,000 mainly foreign migrants have arrived in Tunisia alone since 20 February 2011. Thousands remain in temporary camps facing growing problems of hygiene.
Aid agencies are also increasingly concerned about the situation of people who are trapped in Libya, where battle is ongoing between supporters of strongman Moammar Gadhafi and rebels.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon managed on Sunday to persuade Gadhafi’s foreign minister to allow in a humanitarian assessment team to Tripoli.
Former Jordanian foreign minister Abdelilah Al-Khatib will undertake “urgent consultations” with Gadhafi’s government and work on the humanitarian crisis it has caused, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said.
It is not immediately known where the team would be allowed to visit in Tripoli and whether they would be taken to other cities.
Meanwhile even as UN appointed a special envoy to Tripoli to access the ground situation Libyan rebels ceded ground to Gadhafi’s advancing forces as the United States came under increasing pressure to arm the opposition.
The rebels began pulling back from the key oil terminal town of Ras Lanuf on Monday as a fighter jet blasted defences on the edge of town, throwing up palls of smoke amid rumours that government forces were gearing for an attack.
With the military situation worsening and population centres threatened, key figures in US politics argued strongly for a US operation to arm the rebels and secure a no-fly zone over Libya to thwart Gadhafi’s air force.
Former US ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson said it was time to “covertly arm the rebels” and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a leading member of US President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, said he assumed “a lot of weapons are going to find their way there from one means or another over the course of the next weeks.”
And Stephen Hadley, national security adviser to Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, said Washington should look at the potential for funneling arms to Kadhafi’s opponents.
Czech ex-president and communist-era dissident Vaclav Havel added his voice on Monday, saying military action on Libya by Western countries would be necessary if the armed conflict verging on civil war there lasts.
“Especially if it drags on and if Kadhafi keeps boarding himself up and committing further crimes, some action will be necessary,” Havel told the business daily Hospodarske Noviny in an interview.
Amid the ebb and flow on the battlefield, at least seven people were killed and more than 50 wounded in Sunday’s fierce clashes at Bin Jawad, medics said after evacuating Ras Lanuf’s sole hospital and ferrying the wounded further east into rebel territory at Ajdabiya. @