Secretary General Ban Calls for Continued Aid to Libyan Civilians as Crisis Continues

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–9 June 2011.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for continued international efforts to help the Libyan people “end their suffering,” but warned “there is no quick fix” to the crisis.

In a message to the third meeting of the Contact Group on Libya in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Ban said: “The people of Libya deserve to live in peace under a democratic system. Let us all continue working together, as a united international community, to end their suffering and help them build a future that meets their legitimate and strongly felt aspirations.”

However, he said that “clearly, there is no quick fix to the crisis; the problem will not end quickly.”

“Democracy, human rights and social justice are at the core of the grievances being voiced by the Libyan people,” he said in remarks delivered by B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Mr Ban said that a UN humanitarian needs assessment mission in and around Tripoli and other areas reported: “Food stocks are getting depleted; there are fuel shortages, concerns about access to water services, and an acute lack of medical personnel owing to the departure of most foreign nationals.”

Up to 25,000 Chadians remain stranded in the town of Gatroum, in south-western Libya. Some 950,000 people have left Libya, of which 278,000 are third-country nationals and 250,000 are nationals from neighbouring countries, he said.

Mr. Ban said his Special Envoy to Libya, Abdul Elah al-Khatib, continued to lead efforts to get the parties to end the military confrontation and work for a political solution.

In Tripoli, earlier this week Mr. Khatib met with the Prime Minister and the Chair of the People’s Congress, urging them to share their views with the UN regarding a transitional period that would allow for a political process that would meet “the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people.”

Mr. Khatib also visited the opposition-held city of Benghazi where he discussed the same issues with the Transitional National Council Chairman. Mr. Khatib’s objective is to determine how best to help the Libyan parties agree on a transition linked to a political process that would end the current fighting in the country.

The Special Envoy also briefed the Security Council today by video link.

In Geneva today the UN-ordered panel investigating human rights abuses in Libya presented to the Human Rights Council a report that claims both Government forces and the opposition have committed war crimes. The report of the International Commission of Inquiry said “crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed by the Government forces of Libya,” according to a news release issued in Geneva.

“The commission received fewer reports of facts which would amount to the commission of international crimes by opposition forces; however, it did find some acts which would constitute war crimes,” the report said.

In presenting the report, Cherif Bassiouni, chairperson of the commission, said it was the result of meetings with more than 350 persons and the study of a large number of reports, submissions and other documentation, amounting to more than 5,000 pages, over 580 videos and at least 2,200 photographs.

The commission found that what had started as a series of peaceful demonstrations was met with violent opposition by the Government and those supporting it, which then escalated into a civil war in which opposing forces fought battles in cities and for the control of territory.

“In these contexts, there had been acts constituting murder, unlawful imprisonment and other forms of severe violations of fundamental rules of international law. These included torture, persecution and enforced disappearance, committed by Government forces and their supporters as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with the knowledge that the attack was directed against part of the Libyan population,” Mr. Bassiouni said.

The Libyan representative at the “interactive dialogue” between the Human Rights Council and the commission of inquiry said that Libya had cooperated fully with the commission and that “despite the tension and turmoil,” Libya remained committed to its international obligations, including a firm commitment to ensure rights and freedoms.

Libya presented a written report to the commission saying that no widespread and systematic violations of human rights had taken place under the orders of the Libyan authorities and denying widespread and systematic attacks against civilians, torture and other violations.

Yesterday the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) said investigators are gathering evidence that the Libyan leadership is using rape as a tool of war and repression and had acquired large quantities of drugs for its soldiers in an apparent bid to make them more likely to commit sexual assault.

“We have information to confirm that it was a policy in Libya to rape those who were against the Government,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC Prosecutor, told reporters at United Nations Headquarters. “We are getting some information that [Libyan leader Muammar al-] Qadhafi decided to [use] rape. Rape is a new aspect of the repression,” he said.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that investigators were finding indications of acquisition of Viagra-type medications “to enhance the possibility to rape.”

The contact group, consisting of United States, France, Britain, Italy, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait, held its first meeting in Qatar and a second in Rome.