Tripoli warns of food shortages
Tripoli - Libya could face a shortage of food because a lack of fuel has prevented it from bringing in most of this season's grain harvest, Muammar Gaddafi's agriculture minister said on Tuesday.
Libya has struggled to maintain supplies of motor fuel and some foodstuffs since a rebellion against Gaddafi's rule in February escalated into a civil war.
“It is harvest time and we just harvested 20 percent (of the crop) because we do not have means of transport because of the fuel shortage,” Agriculture Minister Abdul Almajeed Elgowood told reporters.
“We used to import one million tons (of grain) per year, but with the embargo and United Nations bureaucracy we are afraid that we could face a shortage,” the minister said. He said the grain crop this season is estimated at 300 000 tons.
Food and fuel for civilian use are not among the items covered by United Nations and European Union sanctions on Libya. But the sanctions bar traders from dealing with many Libyan firms and individuals linked to Gaddafi, and this has disrupted supplies.
The minister also warned of a water shortage because the government lacked fuel and spare parts to run pumps which extract the water from underground aquifers.
“In three to four months, the situation will deteriorate if the United Nations and Nato continue to prevent us from getting our needs for our people,” the minister said. - Reuters