UN Secretary General Ban Phones Leaders of Saudi Arabia and Italy to Discuss Situation in Libya

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–26 February 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today had telephone discussions with King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on developments in Libya, as he continues to reach out to world leaders to urge them to support the international effort to stop the violence in the North African country.

Mr. Ban briefed King Abdullah on United Nations efforts to quell the violence and bloodshed in Libya and to hold those responsible to account. He underscored Saudi Arabia’s key religious and political role in the region.

In his telephone call with Mr. Berlusconi, the Secretary-General dwelt on the options available to handle the crisis and asked for Italy’s continued support and proactive role for decisive action, according to a summary the conversations released by the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.

Yesterday, Mr. Ban urged the Security Council to consider immediately concrete steps against Libyan President Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s Government for its deadly repression of protesters, with options ranging from sanctions to assured punishment.

The Secretary-General also said he would travel Washington on Monday to discuss the situation with United States President Barack Obama.

He stressed that the first obligation of the international community is to do everything possible to ensure the immediate protection of civilians at demonstrable risk, and welcomed yesterday’s decision by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to recommend Libya’s suspension from the body.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today voiced deep concern over reports that children and adolescents have been killed or injured in the violence that is affecting a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

“No child should be exposed to any forms of danger, as this could have a long-lasting effect on their survival or psychological well being,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, speaking in Brussels.

UNICEF said the situation is particularly alarming in Libya where the Security Council has called for international humanitarian assistance and expressed concern at the reported shortage of medical supplies.

The agency said it is ready to provide assistance if needed and urged all those involved to protect children.