As NATO bombing has helped the rebels push Gaddafi's forces away from the besieged city of Misrata, the UN's aid chief Baronness Valerie Amos has called for a pause in the bombing so that badly needed supplies can reach civilians who have been trapped by the civil war.
Baroness Amos said the disruption caused by a combination of the conflict and sanctions was paralysing the country.
She called on the Security Council to ensure that all parties respected international law and she said the use of cluster bombs, sea and land mines, as well as aerial bombing showed a callous disregard for civilians.
The conflict and disrupted supply lines had delayed the arrival of commercial goods, she said.
"Widespread shortages are paralysing the country in ways which will impact gravely on the general population in the months ahead, particularly for the poorest and the most vulnerable," she added.
There was only enough food left for a few months, she said.
She renewed calls for money, saying an appeal for $144m (£88m) had only been half met, and more than that would be needed.
A Red Cross ship successfully docked in Misrata on Monday, bringing medical equipment, baby food and spare parts for electrical and water systems.
It is not likely that either side will stop since both are advancing in different parts of the country. But the humanitarian disaster shaping up as a result of the war is something NATO never bargained for.