A top NATO official says the alliance has "no intention" for the time being of intervening in Libya's anti-government uprising.
But in a news conference Monday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance is also conducting "prudent planning for any eventuality."
The NATO chief added that if Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces continue what he calls "systematic" attacks on the population, it will be difficult for the United Nations and the international community to "stand idly by." He said the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya would be a very complex undertaking requiring a wide range of military assets.
His comments came as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued an appeal for $160 million in international aid to help about one million people either fleeing Libya or stranded in the country.
Speaking in Geneva Monday, U.N. humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos said the appeal is based on a projection of 400,000 mostly migrant workers fleeing the Libyan unrest, including more than 200,000 people who already have fled since the uprising started last month. She says another 600,000 people stuck inside Libya also are in need of humanitarian aid.
As part of the U.N. appeal, the International Organization for Migration said Monday it is seeking $49 million in aid for 65,000 migrant workers affected by the Libyan uprising.
The United Nations also says a special U.N. envoy for Libya, appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will engage in urgent consultations with Mr. Gadhafi's government in Tripoli. Mr. Ban named former Jordanian foreign minister Abdelilah Al-Khatib to the post of special envoy Sunday. It was not immediately clear when Al-Khatib will meet with Libyan officials.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.