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10-03-2011 | Middle East

LIBYA: Rules of War must be applied as fighting intensifies


At a press conference in Geneva (10.03.11), ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger urged all those involved in Libya's armed conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law and, in particular, to take all possible precautions to spare civilian lives.

The ICRC reported a sharp increase in casualties arriving at hospitals in Ajdabiya and Misrata in recent days. Its medical teams in these hospitals are assisting local doctors treating those injured in the fighting. At Ajdabya hospital, ICRC and local medical staff work round the clock to treat the war wounded.

Alarmed at the intensification in fighting in Libya and mounting casualties, President Kellenberger repeated the most important rules of war which are applicable in this context. He stressed that, "there has to be a distinction between civilians and fighters. It is prohibited to attack civilians."

President Kellenberger insisted that, "acts or threats of violence, the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited." and that, "medical personnel, transport and infrastructure should be protected."

Since the beginning of the conflict, the ICRC has been unable to reach western Libya to provide assistance to those in need. The president pointed out that the ICRC had been among the first humanitarians to arrive in the east but still had no access to the west: "In order to be able to assist we must have access," he said. "We don't have access to the area controlled by Tripoli so far, and our main focus will be to try to get access." 

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