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Violence among rival groups in Libya resulted displacement of 287,000 people: UN Agency

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(Geneva-AlummahWorld 11 Oct 2014) The U.N. Refugee Agency announced Friday that increased violence among rival groups in Libya has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 287,000 people. According to UN News Center, more than 100,000 of those were displaced in the past three weeks, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards noted Friday during a news conference in Geneva.

In the last three weeks alone, intensified fighting between rival armed groups in Libya has forcibly displaced nearly 290,000 people across the country, including 100,000, who urgently need food, health care and adequate shelter, especially now that winter in approaching, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said.

“The growing number of displaced people is outstripping the capacities of local communities,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva, adding that the agency and its partners are responding to some of the needs, but “we face major constraints in access.”

In recent weeks, the Libya has been embroiled in some of the worst fighting since the 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. The Libyan parliament convened for the first time in early August of this year, welcomed by the UN as a move toward peace. However, protracted battles between opposing armed groups continue to take their toll on civilians.

According to a UNHCR statement, recent displacement has been around Warshefana on the outskirts of Tripoli, where fighting in recent weeks has caused some 100,000 people to flee. Additionally, some 15,000 people are estimated to be displaced around Benghazi.

Many displaced people are living with locals, some who have opened their homes to several families to meet the growing need for shelter. People unable to stay with relatives or host families sleep in schools, parks or non-residential buildings converted into emergency shelters.

Efforts to reach the displaced are often hampered by limited access to towns affecting by fighting between rival armed groups. UNHCR and partners dispatched the first relief convoy for 12,000 displaced people in western Libya in August. But additional help is urgently needed, and for this, better access is required.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNMIL) has called for an immediate ceasefire and access to carry out distribution of aid. Meanwhile, the UN has issued a humanitarian appeal for Libya requesting additional funding to continue helping hundreds of thousands of people.

As well as the impact on the local population, the fighting is also affecting refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants in Libya – many of them from Middle Eastern countries and sub-Saharan Africa. Lawlessness and spike in food prices have made many desperate to leave.