Libya is a food deficit country heavily reliant on imports, according to the Rome-based agency. To feed a population of over 6.6 million, an estimated 110,000 tons of food monthly are required, of which at least 75 per cent is imported. “The public food distribution system in Libya is under stress as food stocks in the country are being consumed without replenishment,” WFP stated in an update, adding that there are reports of some food commodities doubling in price. “The longer the conflict lasts, the more it becomes likely that the number of those in need of food assistance will increase dramatically.” WFP has boosted the provision of food inside Libya with distribution in eight different locations in the Beidan area north of Ajdabiya and south of Benghazi in the northeast of the country. Its food distributions inside Libya started on 9 March, and the agency has pre-positioned and mobilized more than 16,500 tons of food for the hungry inside the country and in the wider region as part of a $42 million emergency operation designed to provide food assistance to more than one million people in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia over a three-month period. The ongoing conflict between pro- and anti-Government supporters in Libya uprooted over 400,000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with the majority of them fleeing to neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. The fighting has made access to those in need more difficult for humanitarian agencies. In addition to working with local partners to deliver food to hungry people in Libya, WFP is also providing logistics and telecommunications support to the humanitarian community working there. It reported that a convoy of three trucks, carrying food assistance as well as 5,000 blankets and 5,000 sleeping mattresses on behalf of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees arrived in Benghazi on 27 March – the first since the implementation of the no-fly zone imposed on Libya by the Security Council two weeks ago. The no-fly zone was part of an effort by the Council to protect civilians from the fierce military crackdown waged by Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi in response to the protests that erupted in Libya last month as part of a wider movement calling for reform across North Africa and the Middle East. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported today that it is working with its partners to buy urgent medical supplies – including equipment for blood transfusions, tents for mobile clinics, and water and sanitation equipment – and transport them to Libya as soon as access is provided. The $160 million humanitarian flash appeal for Libya is currently 70 per cent funded at $111.8 million, according to OCHA. The Office added that the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, has begun a three-day assessment visit to Tunisia to review the humanitarian conditions and interact with Government and humanitarian actors. Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s diplomatic efforts to seek a solution to the crisis in Libya continue. His Special Envoy, Abdul Elah al-Khatib, has just concluded two days of talks in Libya, meeting with the opposition in Benghazi today after talks with authorities in Tripoli on Thursday. While in Benghazi, Mr. Khatib met with members of the Transitional National Council, including its leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil. In Tripoli, he met with Libyan Government officials, including Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi. “He emphasized the urgent need to immediately stop military action, cease all hostilities against the Libyan civilian population and end the assaults on cities and towns,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Nairobi, where he is on an official visit. Mr. Khatib also stressed the need to respect the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people and secure safe access for humanitarian assistance, in addition to allowing for the safe return of migrant workers. He called for the release of all foreign journalists, including the four members of an Al-Jazeera television crew who have been detained, and highlighted the need for all sides to abide by international conventions regarding the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. 1 April 2011The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it has stepped up assistance to Libya, while voicing concern about access to food inside the country, especially in areas heavily affected by the fighting.