The African Union called for the formation of an inclusive transitional government in Libya, saying it could not recognise the rebels as sole legitimate representatives of the nation while fighting continues.
If fighting continues unchecked, there are fears that Libya’s conflict will spill over into the remote regions of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania.
Algeria has said it believes the chaos inside Libya, and large quantities of weapons circulating there, are already being exploited by al Qaeda’s North African branch.
And an influential former Malian rebel, believed to have been involved in the trade of looted weapons from Libya, has been killed in Mali, officials said yesterday.
However, taking control of the Ras Jdir border post reopens a path for humanitarian aid and other supplies from Tunisia to Tripoli, where stocks of medicines and fuel are running low.
Surgical teams and medicines will be laid on to help up to 5,000 wounded, as well as food and household essentials for almost 690,000.
Red Cross spokesman Steven Anderson said: ‘Medical supplies are one of the main problems that will help people on the ground out there.
‘Many drugs are lacking and the import has been slowed down. Even drugs for cancer, diabetes, kidney failure are running out and that is a real issue.’
The support comes amid reports of harrowing conditions in one Tripoli hospital – the abandoned Abu Salim hospital – where dozens of decomposing bodies were piled up.
It will also include helping families reunite after being broken up by the conflict.
Britain will provide urgent humanitarian support including medical help, food and other basic supplies for thousands of people affected by the conflict in Libya, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced today.
Mr Mitchell said humanitarian agencies were doing ‘extraordinary’ work while putting their own lives on the line in Libya.
‘As the conflict moves into its final stages there are many Libyans in need of urgent humanitarian help,’ he said.
‘The situation on the ground in Tripoli is an incredibly difficult one for humanitarian agencies.
‘But organisations such as the ICRC are doing extraordinary work in dangerous and difficult circumstances to get supplies and doctors through to those in need.
‘This new funding from our development budget will help them to continue their vital work in critical areas across Libya.
‘Today we pay a huge tribute to the humanitarian agencies who are risking their lives in Libya to help and sustain their fellow human beings.’
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that African, Arab and European organizations agreed on the urgent need to end the fighting in Libya and restore order with help from international police if the new government requests security assistance.
After a video conference with top officials from the African Union, Arab League, European Union and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Mr Ban told reporters that ‘all agreed that the crisis in Libya has entered a new and decisive phase’ and a smooth transition is essential with the UN playing a key role.
‘That transition must be grounded in inclusiveness, reconciliation and national unity – under a new government that can effectively deliver on the Libyan people’s aspirations for democracy, freedom, and growing social and economic prosperity,’ Mr Ban said.
‘Clearly, the challenges ahead are enormous,’ he said.
Fox praises key role of the RAF
British defence chiefs say the campaign to topple Gaddafi was inspired by a simple motto – ‘remember the lessons of Iraq’.
From the start of Nato’s air campaign five months ago, the MoD argued that a key mistake of the Allied assault on Saddam Hussein had been the smashing of his country’s infra¬structure such as power plants and government buildings.
It meant that by the time victory was achieved, Iraq needed to be rebuilt virtually from scratch – leaving a dangerous power vacuum while the work was done.
But in the drive against Gaddafi, British RAF pilots have played a key role in precision bombing, which has taken out major military targets while keeping civilian casualties to a minimum and leaving Libya’s ‘vital functions’ largely intact.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox is said to be ‘delighted’ by the success of the strategy, and by the role played by high-tech British weaponry.
Brimstone missiles, air-launched anti-tank weapons developed for the RAF five years ago, have proved to be a particular success. The laser-guided weapons have proved to be phenomenally accurate, even against moving targets. The Typhoon fighters used in bombing raids have also ‘performed extremely well’ and the MoD says it expects large export orders for the planes after their performance in the ‘showroom’ of Libya.
Dr Fox said yesterday: ‘We decided from the beginning that we should show the respect for human life that Gaddafi so manifestly disregarded.’
Meanwhile, defence officials warn that the hunt for Gaddafi might be prolonged.
One source said: ‘Libya is a very large country and the Gaddafi regime had plenty of time to prepare an escape plan
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