Fouad Ali Mazanaee, a director at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and head of the delegation to Libya in Benghazi says 57 member states will meet Tuesday to discuss the situation in Libya. He doesn't think that Libya suffers from food shortage, at least in the east.
Ahram Online: What is the main target of this mission?
Fouad Mazanaee: It’s a humanitarian mission to evaluate and assess the needs of people in Libya. So far our assessment indicates there is no food shortage generally, there is mismanagement of supplies, they are asking for medical equipment from OIC and the international community, but we realise Egyptian NGOs have provided plenty, the people don’t know where it is located.
AO: What is the worst affected area that you have seen so far?
FM: The border is the worst, especially the Tunisian. At the Egyptian border, there are 7,000 refugees within the no-man zone, they are really in need of assistance, particularly logistics. Seventy per cent of them are from Bangladesh. They are complaining that their ambassador in Cairo visited and said he had no means to evacuate them. They lack sanitation and a continuous food supply. The UN promised to take them home but yet still the problems are still unresolved.
AO: You mentioned that there is no shortage of food or medicine but rather a mismanagement of resources. What are you going to do about that?
FM: This is the area where OIC comes in. We accumulated experience in Gaza, we came forward with systems of humanitarian aid and evaluation. At the Gaza blockade crisis, for example, humanitarian supplies were accumulated at [the Egyptian border city of] Al-Arish. They piled up tons of food and it was destroyed because they stored it in the open. After two months, the food becomes inedible so we asked the government to allow us to coordinate and we managed to assess the situation and provide the international community with a list of priorities.
We are here now to bring this experience here; we created a focal point here in Benghazi to monitor the needs and assess the situation, and provide information on priorities to NGOs. We expect the crisis to unfold soon.
Ahram Online: Who are you coordinating with here in Benghazi?
FM: We are mainly working with the international community of the Islamic Crescent and civil society.
Ahram Online: Do you expect the crisis to unfold soon?
FM: There are indicators that the problems will be over, the conference today [8 March] may come up with very important decisions. In the next hour or two we will know what recommendations and decisions they have taken politically. But the delegation here is really concerned about the humanitarian situation.
Ahram Online: As we speak now air strikes continue on revolutionaries and civilians in Ras Lanuf, Ben Jawwad and El Zawya, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Some rebels expressed their frustration at the international community for being late in taking decisions to protect them. What do you think about that?
FM: For us here our main mandate is humanitarian, if such air raids are really creating a lot of calamities, and that’s our fear, we want to help those who are suffering. We are here to avoid such calamities.
The message is that OIC is standing by the Libyan people particularly in their suffering. Our position is very clear, we stand along the side of people, policies are another matter.