Fighting continues in Libya as relief agencies struggle to help

Stranded migrant workers between Libya and Egypt

The government of Muammar Qadhafi and opposition forces remain far apart on finding a negotiated solution to the conflict in Libya. That's what the Security Council heard during a briefing by the head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe on Tuesday. The crisis in Libya, which started in February as people protested against the rule of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi and demanded democratic freedoms, has evolved into a military confrontation between government and opposition forces. Derrick Mbatha reports.

Briefing the Security Council on Libya on Tuesday, the head of the Department of Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe said that fighting continues in the North African country three months after the political crisis started.

CUT 1:                                                 Pascoe

"The NATO-led 'Operation Unified Protectors' intensified its operations in Libya with repeated claims from the government of Libya of civilian casualties. Defections from the regime seem to again be on the rise, including the eight generals from the Libyan military who are now in Italy along with many of their officers."

One of the cities most affected by fighting in Libya is Misrata, in the north-western part of the country. It has been fiercely contested by pro-Qadhafi and opposition forces.

CUT 2:                                     Pascoe  

"Opposition forces have gained control of Misrata and reportedly pushed government troops westwards. But there continues to be fighting in the outskirts of Misrata and the city is only accessible by sea. The government forces have intensified their campaign to take strategic positions in the western Nafusa Mountains."

And Mr. Pascoe does not see any hope, at least for now, for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Libya.

CUT 3                                               Pascoe

"The parties in Libya remain far apart on even beginning negotiations to resolve the conflict. The Libyan government has repeatedly called for a ceasefire, including an end to NATO operations as a prerequisite for negotiations. For its part, the TNC maintains that negotiations on the ceasefire and other related aspects can only start with the removal from power of Colonel Qadhafi and members of his family.

The TNC is the Transitional National Council which is fighting Colonel Qadhafi's government.

Meanwhile, relief agencies are continuing their operations in Libya. Jemini Pandya of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says her agency has sent a ship from Benghazi to Misrata to evacuate the remaining group of stranded migrants.

CUT 4:                                     Pandya

On board will also be a joint IOM-UN assessment team which will gauge the humanitarian needs in Misrata which has seen much of the fighting.  The Misrata mission follows the arrival back in Libya of IOM international staff to Tripoli.  The presence will help facilitate our additional help to migrants who remain stranded inside Libya and also allow us to provide humanitarian assistance on a wider scale in the country."

 The boat that has sailed to Misrata is carrying humanitarian assistance, including food to the people in need in Misrata. Emilia Casella is spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP)

 CUT 5:                                     Casella

 "The World Food Programme is sending 500 tons of food on this ship. This will bring to about 125,000 the number of people who would have been fed with food sent into Misrata. "

Ms. Casella points out that providing humanitarian assistance to Libya in general is not easy.

CUT 6:                                     Casella

The UN Humanitarian Air Service has been carrying out flights into Libya for the humanitarian community.  However, the operation may have to discontinue its services unless it receives about $3 million of needed funds."

Ms. Casella says that so far, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 250,000 people in eastern Libya and 29,000 in the west.  Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

Duration: 3’26″

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