News / Africa

Libyan humanitarian: Misrata Siege Denies City Needed Supplies

A rebel fighter gestures beside a Kingdom of Libya flag on a truck at a staging area to the east of Brega, April 4, 2011
A rebel fighter gestures beside a Kingdom of Libya flag on a truck at a staging area to the east of Brega, April 4, 2011

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  • Clottey interview with Tariq Tarhouni, a Libyan humanitarian

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Peter Clottey

A Libyan humanitarian says the “constant” bombardment by forces loyal to embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi are preventing shipments of needed medical supplies, food and fresh water from reaching residents of Misrata caught up in the clashes between Gadhafi loyalists and the rebels.

Tariq Tarhouni also calls on coalition forces to increase air strikes against the Gadhafi loyalists to, in his words, prevent them from causing further hardship on the residents of the western Libyan city.

“In fact, we urge many of the countries who are close to the Libyan people, Italy is one of them, of course, France already [has] done so [recognize transitional council], and we hope that our neighboring countries, especially those in the Mediterranean, to follow suit and quickly recognize the transitional government, because that will strengthen the cause and will ease the suffering of the people,” said Tarhouni.

Meanwhile, rebel forces made gains Monday in a battle for a key oil town, as international diplomatic efforts continued to end the fighting.

Foreign media reports said the rebels controlled access in and around the eastern town of Brega, where the rival forces have been in a standoff for days.

On the western front, Gadhafi loyalists used tanks and snipers to keep the city of Misrata under siege.

Tarhouni says there is a need for the Obama administration to lead the “charge” against Gadhafi to force him to cede power.

“We are very grateful for what the Obama Administration [has done]…But, what we need from them is a bit more action as the leader of the free world to support the Libyan people for this genuine uprising, to put more pressure on the military stage and, politically, to speed up the transition and to see out the end of these atrocities being caused by the Gadhafi brigade inside Libya,” Tarhouni said

The International Committee of the Red Cross is appealing to combatants to allow it access to Misrata, the country’s third largest city, where dozens of injuries and deaths are reported from fierce battles.

Tarhouni describes the humanitarian satiation in there as deplorable.

“The lifeline [of] Misrata is, at the moment, the port and it’s the lack of food which has become evident in Misrata. We are trying to help here with medicine, food stuffs and trying to help as much as we can, but [it] is not safe. We are even using small boats because we have to sneak through the cover of the Libyan navy,” said Tarhouni.

Meanwhile, a Libyan government envoy is in Europe for talks on bringing an end to the fighting.

Acting Foreign Minister Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi is meeting with Turkish officials for talks on brokering a cease-fire with the opposition.

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