Warning over mounting risk to civilians in Tripoli

By agency reporter
23 Aug 2011

Amnesty International has warned that prolonged fighting in the Libyan capital Tripoli is seriously endangering civilian lives and has the potential to create a humanitarian crisis.

Clashes between the National Transitional Council (NTC) and forces loyal to Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi have continued in the city with both sides claiming to control most of the capital.

There are also fears for the safety of thousands of foreign migrant workers, including those trying to escape the country, after a rescue boat from the International Organisation for Migration was reportedly unable to dock in Tripoli this morning (23 August 2011) due to security concerns.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Malcolm Smart said: "The risk to civilians increases with each day of violence in Tripoli, not just for people caught up in the fighting but also because conditions could become dire if residential areas are affected by the clashes - with food supplies, water and electricity all likely to be hit.

"Foreign migrant workers stuck in Libya, many of them from sub-Saharan African countries, are very vulnerable. Not only does the volatile situation on the ground prevent them from fleeing, they may also be targeted for being perceived as 'mercenaries'.”

The battle for Tripoli shows no sign of abating today, especially since the public emergence of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, whom NTC forces yesterday said they had captured.

Saif al-Islam and Colonel al-Gaddafi, along with military intelligence chief Abdallah al-Sanussi, are wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

Malcolm Smart added:“Colonel al-Gaddafi and others who are accused of orchestrating the bloody crackdown in Libya must be held to account in accordance with international law.”

[Ekk/4]

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