Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger : Top Oppostion figure to be questioned in baby trafficking scandal

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call back

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000

Read more

WEB NEWS

'Ice Bucket Challenge' angers anti-abortion activists

Read more

#TECH 24

Tomorrow's Transport Today

Read more

FOCUS

Mothers and children leaving Honduras at all costs

Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Russian troops have entered Ukraine, says Kiev

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

Africa

Libya contact group agrees to fund rebels in Rome

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-05

Officials from 22 countries and six international organisations backing Libya’s opposition have agreed in Rome to set up a financial mechanism that would help the embattled rebel administration cover its running costs.

REUTERS - The NATO-backed coalition against Muammar Gaddafi said on Thursday it would create a fund for rebels running short of supplies and money, as the Libyan leader’s forces pounded a rebel town in the west.

Italy, host of a meeting in Rome of the “Contact Group” on Libya, said the temporary special fund would aim to channel cash to the rebel administration in its eastern Libyan stronghold of Benghazi.

A rebel spokesman in rebel-held Zintan, south-west of the Libyan capital, said pro-Gaddafi forces had fired about 50 Russian-made Grad rockets into the town so far on Thursday.

The spokesman, called Abdulrahamn, said the first salvo landed at about 6:45 (0445 GMT). There were no immediate reports of casualties, the spokesman said.

While the fighting has generally descended into a stalemate, the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC), which has been recognised by France, Italy and Qatar, has appealed for loans of up to $3 billion as it seeks to tip the balance.

But efforts to unblock Libyan state assets frozen in overseas accounts, or to allow the rebels to get past U.N. sanctions that prevent their selling oil on international markets, have been held up.

“We’ll be discussing a financial mechanism, we’ll be discussing other forms of aid,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a joint news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

“I will be formally announcing our non-lethal assistance so I think that there is an effort with urgency to meet the requests that the TNC is making,” she said.

Thursday’s meeting brings together foreign ministers from more than 20 countries including France, Britain, the United States, Italy and Qatar as well as representatives of the Arab League and the African Union.

Mahmoud Shammam, chief spokesman for the transitional council, has said the rebels urgently need $1.5 billion to cover immediate running costs.

“We need this for medical supplies, for food supplies, to keep the minimum functions of normal life—electricity, running hospitals etc,” he said on Wednesday.

Other rebels have spoken of needing $2 billion- $3 billion to try to shore up an administration created from scratch with no substantial sources of funding, and to pay the state salaries on which most people depend.

"No envelope of cash"

The meeting is not expected to address military issues but ministers are likely to restate their confidence in the NATO mission, despite a lack of progress since the initial airstrikes drove Gaddafi’s forces away from Benghazi in March.

Signs of impatience with the coalition’s lack of coherence have emerged. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is planning a separate conference of the “friends of Libya” in the coming weeks to discuss the future of the country.

Of particular concern is the fate of civilians in the surviving pockets of resistance to Gaddafi in cities in western Libya such as Misrata and Zintan.

An aid ship defied shelling by Gaddafi’s forces to rescue more than 1,000 people from Misrata but was forced to leave behind hundreds of Libyans desperate to flee the fighting.

“The boat arrived safely this morning in Benghazi,” International Organisation for Migration spokeswoman Jemini Pandya said on Thursday.

Misrata’s port is a lifeline for the city, where food and medical supplies are low and snipers shoot from rooftops. In all about 13,000 people have now been rescued by 13 ships.

The IOM hoped to carry out a further evacuation mission, but this would depend on the security situation, Panyda said.

The United States on Wednesday condemned the continued shelling of Misrata and called on Gaddafi’s forces to permit the IOM to resume evacuating wounded people from the port.

The insurgents trying to topple Gaddafi after 41 years in power had hoped for a swift victory, akin to the ousting of the leaders of neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia by popular uprisings.

But his better-equipped forces halted the rebels’ westward advance from Benghazi, and the front line is now largely static.

The United States, Britain and France, leading a NATO air campaign, say they will not stop until Gaddafi is toppled.

Britain said it had expelled two more Libyan diplomats from London days after it ordered the country’s ambassador to leave.

“I ordered the expulsion of the two diplomats on the basis that their activities were contrary to the interests of the UK,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
On Sunday, Libyan ambassador Omar Jelban was given 24 hours to leave Britain after the British government said its embassy in Tripoli had been attacked.

The attack on the British mission followed a NATO air raid on Tripoli that the Libyan government said had killed Gaddafi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren.
 

Date created : 2011-05-05

  • Netherlands

    ICC pursues Libyan chiefs for crimes against humanity

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Misrata faces more shelling as deadline expires

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Turkey calls on Gaddafi to step down ‘immediately’

    Read more

COMMENT(S)