Food Shortages In East Libya Imminent

It was fun and games so far, with the occasional 10,000 deaths here and there. Now comes the hunger. Reuters quotes a Libyan public health volunteer who says "Rebel-held eastern Libya will start to experience serious food and medical shortages within three weeks. The unrest is disrupting imports, the local supply of fresh food and domestic manufacturing, people in Libya's second city of Benghazi say, with many shops and factories there still closed since the city fell to protesters a week ago. "We will have serious shortages of food, drink, medicine and medical equipment in two weeks, three weeks maximum. We need outside help," said Khalifa el-Faituri, a volunteer with qualifications in public health and pharmacology." So what was merely your 2011 garden variety revolution is about to get really ugly. Somehow we doubt the Libyans will be happy to find that in the past month or so most food prices have increased by 25% or so. The question is who they riot against next?

More from Reuters on what could become the next humanitarian crisis-cum-civil war:

It was unclear just how much supply routes and manufacturing had been disrupted -- Benghazi's port was open, as was east Libya's land border with Egypt.

The shops that were still open were well stocked with snacks, tinned goods and other non-perishable items, but fresh food was scarce.

Thousands of migrant workers from Egypt, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries who may have worked in food supply chains -- such as vegetable growing and bread baking -- have left the country, which could explain the shortages.

There is a growing sense of unease in Benghazi over food supplies, and some people complained of not being able to find bread and other goods.

"I'm struggling to find basics for my family. Bread, vegetables. Prices have gone up by 75 percent," said restaurant waiter Ayman Ahmed, 50.

It was the same story outside the city.

"Since the uprising there's been no sugar, no pasta, no rice, no fruit. We've got enough to keep us going for a week, but God knows after that," said shopkeeper Naji Othman, in the village of Sultan. His shelves were poorly stocked with mainly packet and tinned food, the fresh produce corner empty.