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Libya: much-needed humanitarian aid reaches Misrata

09-05-2011 News Release 11/111

Benghazi/Geneva (ICRC) – A ship chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in Misrata this morning, carrying medical supplies for the hospital, spare parts to repair water and electrical supply systems, and baby food for the civilian population.

ICRC staff have returned to the conflict-torn city to bring aid to victims and visit people detained by the Libyan armed opposition.

The ICRC is concerned about recent allegations of the red cross or red crescent emblem being used for military purposes in Libya. "The alleged practices, if true, represent a serious misuse of the emblem," said Georgios Georgantas, the ICRC's deputy head of operations for North and West Africa. "The red cross and red crescent emblems are the distinctive signs set out in the Geneva Conventions for the purpose of indicating and protecting personnel, vehicles and facilities providing medical or other humanitarian aid. They may not be used by bodies or persons not entitled to do so."

Complete and total respect for the emblem is essential to enable the ICRC and the Libyan Red Crescent to bring assistance and protection to people affected by the armed conflict. The emblem must be respected at all times and throughout the country.

"Today's distribution of aid for victims of the fighting in Misrata will be carried out in close cooperation with Libyan Red Crescent volunteers," said Simon Brooks, the ICRC's head of mission in Benghazi. "We are bringing in four kits of surgical instruments, surgical disposable dressings and other medical supplies, and 8,000 jars of baby food. We will also continue vital work with a view to reducing the danger of unexploded devices in the streets of Misrata."

Clearly marked vehicles are on board the ICRC-chartered ship. "We aim to use the vessel as a floating platform, from which we can carry out our work and reach victims on the ground with increased mobility," added Mr Brooks.

On 4 and 5 May, another ICRC team assessed the humanitarian situation in the western outskirts of Misrata. Many people who fled the city centre have lost contact with other members of their families. The ICRC will look into means of helping them restore this contact over the coming days.

For further information, please contact:
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Benghazi, tel: +870 772 390 124
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50