Benghazi, September 23, 2021
Georgette Gagnon concluded a four-day visit to Benghazi today with representatives of the United Nations country team based in Benghazi, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and Humanitarian Aid Coordinator for Libya. Ms. Gagnon visited health facilities, medical warehouses, the Al-Heleas Internally Displaced Persons, the Rehabilitated Benghazi Library and AlShabbi Corniche, as well as the offices of Tatweer Research and LibAid. Ms. Gagnon thanked the National Unity Government and Benghazi Municipality for their full cooperation during her visit.
During her meeting with the Benghazi Deputy Mayor and community officials, Ms. Gagnon discussed current needs in the community and the efforts of the United Nations to support around 68 humanitarian and inclusive development projects aimed at stabilizing communities, restoring infrastructure and providing access to basic services .
“Working with the Benghazi community in humanitarian aid and reconstruction, as well as in the unification of institutions, contributes to greater stability and prosperity for the people of Libya,” said Ms. Gagnon.
In meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Benghazi Health Emergency Center, Ms. Gagnon discussed priorities to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including WHO’s critical support for the extraordinary efforts of Libyan health authorities, such as the provision of oxygen, medical and laboratory supplies, medicines , Vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.
Ms. Gagnon reiterated her commitment to increasing the supply of routine child vaccines in Libya due to chronic shortages during a visit to UNICEF-supported cold stores and vaccination centers for COVID-19 and routine vaccines for children.
Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gagnon witnessed the invaluable work of the director and medical professionals of the Benghazi Children’s Hospital. She attended the hospital’s intensive care unit and neonatal unit, recently rehabilitated by the UNDP. She spoke about the provision of technical and operational support by WHO to strengthen health care in the hospital, which treats children from Sirte to Musaid and as far as Kufra, and the urgent need to increase the capacity of the hospital.
Ms. Gagnon experienced firsthand the resumption of specialized services and disease prevention at the Benghazi Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, which aims to ensure health care for all and access to HIV treatment for all living with HIV. Highlight was the WHO’s support for the Center in the Treatment of Infectious Diseases through a program that includes drugs, enhances the diagnostic capabilities of the National Center for Disease Control and Health Information System in Libya.
In response to the needs of women, girls and boys in Benghazi and the Eastern Region, UNICEF and UNFPA supported authorities and non-governmental organizations in maternal health, preventing and combating gender-based violence, empowering and building young Libyans and evidence-based planning was highlighted during the visit .
In their interactive dialogue with LibAid, a key partner of UNHCR, IOM and other UN agencies, Ms. Gagnon and representatives of the UN country team focused on joint initiatives to address the long-standing humanitarian needs of vulnerable people in Libya, including enhanced operational and coordination approaches.
In the office of the Tatweer Research Center, partnership projects with UNDP and WFP were highlighted to encourage livelihood and entrepreneurship support to young people. Ms. Gagnon met with dynamic young entrepreneurs who have created startups developing health management and labor mobility apps for government and private sectors, as well as other business concepts.
As part of UNDP’s support in rebuilding the heart of the old town, the UN team visited the Benghazi Public Library and the Benghazi AlShabbi Corniche, which stretches along the Mediterranean. Now over 4,000 visitors a week have access to the historic library and bookstore. This infrastructure is the first to be redeveloped in the central square of the old town.
While visiting the UN country team at the Al-Heleas refugee camp, Ms. Gagnon met with elders from Tawerghan and representatives of civil society to discuss ways to address post-return issues and to meet the immediate needs of the Al-Heleas refugee camp where the WFP is located all food provides distribution. UNHCR is rebuilding housing and infrastructure and distributing essential relief supplies, and UNICEF is helping with education and facilities for clean water. Although the return to Tawergha has continued, further efforts are needed to work with national authorities to ensure personal safety, social cohesion and lasting solutions for Tawerghans and the host communities.
The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator also met with members of the Marzuq community who were displaced due to the rapid deterioration in security in Marzuq. They presented requirements for securing the city and combating human rights violations in order to enable their return.
Most of the meetings raised humanitarian, protection and human rights concerns about the situation of migrants and refugees. Ms. Gagnon stressed the need to improve the protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees, including alternatives for those arbitrarily detained. The United Nations country team has indicated its willingness to work with the Libyan authorities to develop effective migration management and labor mobility policies and practices. Ms Gagnon reiterated the urgent need for the Interior Ministry’s “Directorate to Combat Illegal Migration” to lift the suspension of IOM and UNHCR-supported voluntary humanitarian return and evacuation flights and departures of hundreds of migrants and refugees from Libya, including Benghazi.
Ms. Gagnon heard from international non-governmental organizations and humanitarian partners about the increasing challenges of accessing all places and people in need of humanitarian aid in the region. Measures to remove access restrictions due to security procedures, logistical hurdles and limited resources were agreed.
Ms Gagnon stressed the need for UNHAS’s weekly flights to Benghazi for the delivery of critical humanitarian and other assistance administered by the WFP, which also manages the UN hub in Benghazi, which houses all UN staff working in the area.
Concluding her productive visit to Benghazi, Ms. Gagnon said: âI have witnessed the open dialogue we have had with Libyan actors through continued partnerships to strengthen the engagement and support of the UN country team in the provision of basic services, livelihoods and humanitarian aid , and I am encouraged to help maintain peace, restore social cohesion and promote inclusive development in the country. “