The United Nations said it will be sending a team of specialists to assess the humanitarian crisis in Libya, as thousands of foreigners remain trapped in the country and fighting intensifies between forces opposed to and loyal to Moammar Gaddafi.

Libya’s Foreign Minister Musa Kusa has reportedly agreed to the request by the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Ban also asked Libyan authorities in Tripoli to protect its citizens and support the people's legitimate aspirations to live in dignity and peace.

In a telephone conversation, Ban urged Kusa to consider the best interests of the Libyan people, and listen to the united voice of the international community.

Ban has named Abdelilah Al-Khatib, a former foreign minister of Jordan, as his Special Envoy to Libya to undertake urgent consultations with officials in Tripoli to determine the magnitude of the crisis.

The secretary-general has expressed his grave concerns about the violence in Libya, which is claiming large numbers of lives and threatens even more carnage in the days ahead, according to a statement.

He also called for an immediate halt to the government's disproportionate use of force and indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets.

The UN also said it has launched a $160 million appeal to respond to humanitarian needs arising from the ongoing crisis in Libya.

The funds will be used, the UN stated, the help the activities of seventeen aid groups in assisting people who have fled and for other affected people in Libya for the next three months, covering areas such as food security, nutrition, health care, water and sanitation and shelter.

“This appeal is based on planning scenario projecting up to 400,000 people leaving Libya – including the 200,000 who have left to date – and another 600,000 people inside Libya expected to need humanitarian aid to varying degrees,” said Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Amos travelled to the Tunisia-Libya border over the weekend to assess the relief effort for people fleeing Libya amidst the worsening violence.

The UN also said it appointed Rashid Khalikov as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Libyan crisis.

Khalikov, who is currently Director of the Geneva branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will work with the UN resident coordinators for Tunisia, Egypt and Niger on operations along Libya’s border.