GENEVA (AP) -- Up to 1 million foreign workers and others trapped in Libya are expected to need emergency aid because of fighting in the North African nation, aid officials said Monday as they sought $160 million to deal with the crisis.
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U.N. officials say that amount is only for the next three months – and they expect the crisis to go on longer than that. The U.N. is also effectively frozen out of sections controlled by leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces and is only seeking humanitarian aid for opposition-controlled areas.
"This appeal is based on a planning scenario projecting up to 400,000 people leaving Libya – including the 200,000 who have left to date – and another 600,000 people inside Libya expected to need humanitarian aid," said Valerie Amos, the U.N.'s humanitarian and emergency coordination chief.
The money is for camp management, food security, nutrition, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene.
Since Feb. 20, about 213,000 foreign workers have fled to Libya's borders with Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and now Algeria – an estimated 15 percent of Libya's foreign population – and hundreds of thousands more are expected to follow over the next three months, according to Amos and international migration officials.
Antonio Guterres, the U.N, high commissioner for refugees, says about 120,000 people have crossed the border into Tunisia from Libya since the crisis began. Most of the rest have gone over into Egypt, while a few thousand others fled into Niger and Algeria.
As part of the emergency appeal by 17 U.N. and other aid organizations, the International Organization for Migration said Monday it is seeking at least $49.2 million to provide food, water, shelter and medical care for up to 65,000 migrant workers caught up in the crisis.
"This still only scratches the surface," the organization's spokeswoman Jemini Pandya, who said there were about 1.5 million foreign migrant workers inside Libya before the fighting began.
There has been a steep dropoff in the number of migrant workers crossing over from Libya in recent days, due to a beefed-up presence by Gaddafi's forces along the way from Tripoli. But the officials say thousands of migrants are still arriving daily at Ras Adjir at the Tunisian border, and at Salum on the Egyptian border.
As of Monday, the migration organization had evacuated 15,000 migrants by air and sea to Egypt, Bangladesh, Ghana, Mali and other countries. Several hundreds more were evacuated by road from Libya. Some 22,500 migrant workers, mainly Bangladeshis, still need to be evacuated home.
Its director, William Lacy Swing, said his agency was "greatly concerned" about those who stick stuck inside Libya.
"Those managing to get out, in particular sub-Saharan Africans, are recounting to us terrible stories of targeting, physical violence and of being held back from leaving," he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he's deeply concerned about the plight of the many migrant workers and other civilians who are bearing the brunt of the fighting in Libya, particularly in the western portion that includes Gaddafi's stronghold in the capital, Tripoli.
Ban appointed former Jordanian foreign minister Abdelilah Al-Khatib as his special envoy to Libyan and urged authorities to ensure the safety of all foreigners and provide unhindered access for humanitarian aid.
He also called for an immediate halt to what he called Gaddafi's "disproportionate use of force and indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets."
Meanwhile, a Syrian woman gave birth to a baby daughter on board a ship transporting a group of Syrian's fleeing from the turmoil in the eastern city of Benghazi, Syria's official news agency, SANA, said Monday. The baby girl was named Syria, the agency said.
03/11/2011 6:31 PM EST
U.S. Extends Sanctions On Libya
Reports the AP:
The Obama administration extended its Libya sanctions to more Gadhafi family members and close advisers on Thursday, blacklisting business with the Libyan leader's wife, four of his children and his chief of military intelligence.
The Treasury Department froze the assets of nine Libyans in all as part of the strategy to peel off Moammar Gadhafi's closest advisers while punishing those who remain loyal to the regime even as it commits human rights violations.
The sanctions come on top of those previously announced by the administration, which accounted for $32 billion in Libyan government assets blocked in the United States.
03/11/2011 5:33 PM EST
Sarkozy Calls For Air Strikes If Gaddafi Attacks Civilians
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for airstrikes against Gaddafi forces if the leader attacks civilians. According to the Guardian:
Nicolas Sarkozy has called for targeted air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's regime if his forces use chemical weapons or launch air strikes against civilians.
As the EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, warned that a no-fly zone could risk civilian lives in Libya, the French president told an emergency EU summit in Brussels that air strikes may soon be justified.
"The strikes would be solely of a defensive nature if Mr Gaddafi makes use of chemical weapons or air strikes against non-violent protesters," Sarkozy said. The French president qualified his remarks by saying he had many reservations about military intervention in Libya "because Arab revolutions belong to Arabs".
03/11/2011 5:06 PM EST
Dutch Helicopter Crew Freed
A Dutch helicopter crew taken captive in Libya has been freed and sent to Greece. The BBC is reporting:
The two men and one woman arrived in Athens on a Greek military transport plane hours after a son of Muammar Gaddafi announced their release.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said Libya would hold on to the crew's Lynx helicopter.
The woman pilot, Yvonne Niersman, took part in a mission last year to free a German ship from Somali pirates.
Ms Niersman and her fellow crew members were captured in Libya after flying in from the Dutch warship Tromp, anchored off the coast.
Read the entire report here.
03/11/2011 4:43 PM EST
McCain Praises Moroccan King
Senator John McCain praised Morocco's King Mohammed VI for his pledge to introduce democratic reforms. According to the AFP:
"This new reform agenda builds on the king's long-standing commitment to lead Morocco to a future of reform and modernization, and it could ensure that the Kingdom of Morocco will continue to stand as a positive example to governments across the Middle East and North Africa," said McCain.
03/11/2011 3:40 PM EST
Gaddafi Offers Amnesty To Rebels
Reuters is reporting that Gaddafi is now offering to offer amnesty to those rebels who lay own arms.
03/11/2011 3:28 PM EST
2 Protesters Killed In Tunisia
The AP reports:
Tunisia's Interior Ministry says a new eruption of violence between police and protesters has killed two people and injured 20.
The ministry says on its Facebook page that police fired tear gas and demonstrators threw stones and gasoline bombs.
The statement says two protesters were killed in the incident in Metlaoui, a mining town in the center of the Mediterranean country.
The violence comes as Tunisia's interim government is trying to restore stability after deadly protests that drove out longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January. That prompted uprisings around the Arab world.
03/11/2011 2:39 PM EST
Berlusconi Says Hardline With Gaddafi A Mistake
Berlusconi is saying that the West may have made a mistake by taking a hardline against Gaddafi, which may have backed the Libyan leader into a corner. Reports Reuters:
The hardline stance taken by major powers against Muammar Gaddafi may have backed the Libyan leader into a corner and prevented a quiet exit, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday. Speaking after a special meeting of EU leaders, Berlusconi, one of Gaddafi's closest friends in Europe until the current upheaval, said the chances of persuading him to give up power voluntarily now appeared to have disappeared.
"Once someone put forward the idea of bringing Gaddafi before the International Criminal Court, I think the idea of staying in power became entrenched with him and I don't think anyone can make him change his mind," he told reporters.
Read the entire report here.
03/11/2011 2:16 PM EST
Who Are The Libyan Rebels?
The AP is reporting that the rebels fighting Gaddafi forces are amateurs, but deeply committed to the cause:
Moammar Gadhafi has ruled Libya since long before the 25-year-old was born, and he hates the dictator enough to risk his life by fighting for the ragtag rebel force battling government troops along a desolate highway on the North African country's Mediterranean coast.
"I will fight forever. I will die or win, like Omar Mukhtar," said Salem, invoking the legendary Libyan hero who fought Italian occupiers in the 1930s, was ultimately executed, and has become a symbol for the new revolutionaries.
The front-line force trying to advance toward Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital Tripoli is surprisingly small. Not counting supporters who bolster them in the towns along their path, it is estimated at 1,500 at most — Libyans from all walks of life, from students and coffeeshop owners to businessmen who picked up whatever weapons they could and joined the fight. No one seems to know their full size, and they could be picking up new members all the time.
Its ramshackle nature explains the dramatic lurches the fighting has taken. Last week, they took control over a stretch of Mediterranean coastal land that included major oil installations in the ports of Brega and Ras Lanouf. They charged enthusiastically further west, reaching within a few dozen miles of Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, a bastion of support for the leader of 41 years.
03/11/2011 1:03 PM EST
Gaddafi Forces Show Signs Of Victory
Reports the AP:
Moammar Gadhafi's regime has gained momentum with the capture of a key city near Tripoli after days of fierce fighting with rebels.
The battle for Zawiya has emerged as a key test in the government's ability to maintain its hold on the Libyan capital and surrounding areas.
The government had claimed victory on Wednesday, but the rebels who are seeking to oust Gadhafi said fighting was ongoing.
An Associated Press reporter, who was escorted with other journalists into the city on Friday, says the main square that had been the center of resistance is clearly in government control.
03/11/2011 12:47 PM EST
Obama On Libya
Obama noted all of the sanctions and property seizures that have already been implemented against Gaddafi, saying, "Across the board, we are tightening the noose on Gaddafi." He says that NATO is discussing potential military actions in Libya, including a no-fly zone, and will meet on Tuesday. He said that a position will be created for a liaison to speak with Libyan opposition groups. He said that the international community had moved quickly to isolate Gaddafi.
Obama said that no options have been taken off the table so far. In response to a question about whether it would ever be acceptable to the U.S. for Gaddafi to stay in power, Obama stated that "it is in the U.S.' interest and the interest of the Libyan people for Gaddafi to leave." He added, however, that when making a decision to engage militarily, he would weigh the "costs and benefits."