The United Nations humanitarian chief voiced extreme concern today about the impact on civilians of continued fighting in and around the Libyan city of Sirte between forces supporting the interim Government and those loyal to the ousted regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi.
Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, issued a statement warning that supplies of drinking water, food and medicines are running low in Sirte, and there is no functioning electricity.
Thousands of people have fled Sirte, the hometown of Colonel Qadhafi, in recent days amid intense fighting in the city. It is one of the few remaining holdouts since the former government fell after months of conflict in the North African country.
“I call on all parties to spare civilians from the effects of hostilities, and to comply with international humanitarian law,” Ms. Amos said.
“The sick and injured must be allowed to seek and receive medical assistance, and both civilians and captured fighters must be treated with respect, regardless of their origin or political affiliation.”
Ms. Amos noted that while aid workers are bringing relief to those who have fled Sirte, heavy fighting prevents them from getting supplies to those still inside the city.
“Life-saving supplies have been pre-positioned in the surrounding areas for delivery as further humanitarian access is established.”
The Emergency Relief Coordinator’s remarks echo those of Georg Charpentier, the deputy head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), who last week took part in a humanitarian assessment mission that visited both the city of Misrata, which was besieged for weeks during the conflict, and the outskirts of Sirte.