Tuesday, May 10, 2011

UN Chief Calls for Ceasefire in Libya

UN aid chief Valerie Amos has called for a pause in hostilities in Libya to help ease the humanitarian crisis. Baroness Amos told the UN Security Council that Misrata, the only rebel-held city in western Libya, was in a dire state and short of food and water.Three-quarters of a million people have fled Libya since an uprising began against Col Muammar Gaddafi's rule.

Meanwhile rebels in Misrata say they have pushed government troops back from its outskirts. Misrata, the only city in western Libya under rebel control, has been under siege from forces loyal to Col Gaddafi for two months. New NATO airstrikes shook Tripoli into early Tuesday after the alliance's secretary-general dismissed complaints that the allied campaign against longtime Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi had fallen into a stalemate. At least three rounds of explosions echoed across the Libyan capital in a three-hour span that began late Monday, and the roar of jets could be heard overhead.

Last week, a boat carrying 600 refugees broke up shortly after leaving Tripoli port. It is not clear how many people died, but eyewitnesses reported seeing bodies, wreckage and survivors swimming back to shore. The UN refugee agency has called on all ships using the Mediterranean to be prepared to offer assistance to the often unseaworthy vessels carrying migrants from Libya to Europe. At least three other boats have been reported missing in the Mediterranean. 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 an insensitive disregard for civilians. 

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