TRIPOLI, April 19 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that Libya had allowed UN humanitarian presence in Tripoli.
Ban, at a news conference in Budapest, said Libyan authorities had given the green light to UN “humanitarian presence” in Tripoli.
Ban said his special envoy to Libya Abdelilah al-Khatib and UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, Valerie Amos, had reached agreement with Libyan officials.
Ban sketched out the efforts of the UN World Food Program, the International Committee of Red Cross and other bodies to provide assistance in Libya, particularly in areas heavily-ravaged by fighting.
He said the United Nations had three objectives in Libya: to achieve an immediate and effective cease-fire, to extend humanitarian assistance to all people in need, and to continue political dialogue and achieve a political solution.
The United Nations has already established a humanitarian presence in the rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.
UN under-secretary-general Amos said the Libyan government had also allowed her access to conflict-torn Misrata, the only city still partly held by rebels in government-controlled western Libya.
A chartered ship evacuated nearly 1,000 foreign workers and wounded Libyans from Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city.
However, some 5,000 migrant workers, many of whom are Egyptians and Bangladeshis, are still stranded in Misrata.
Government artillery continued to pound Misrata on Monday, killing four civilians and injuring five others, Abdelsalam, a rebel spokesman in Misrata, told the press.
But he said the rebels had gained ground in fighting on the bitterly contested Tripoli Street, a key battleground in Misrata’s seven-week siege by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said at least 267 people have been killed in Misrata over the past seven weeks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said NATO attacks on Misrata should end immediately.
“The international community including NATO is against killing of civilians. NATO should do its utmost to stop attacks on civilians. Attacks especially on Misrata should be ended immediately,” he said.
Meanwhile, the White House said NATO would continue to lead the military operations on Libya while the United States would retain the role to “support and assist.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said NATO has “the capability and the capacity” to fulfill the mission, and to “take the lead in command and control.”
“We provide capacities for jamming, for tanker refueling, for intelligence gathering and the like, and we continue to work with our NATO partners to find if there are other ways that we can assist,” he added.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani met Libya’s opposition Transitional National Council Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil.
The two discussed the latest developments in Libya, days after the emir said the Gulf emirate, which was the first Arab nation to recognize the Libyan opposition, was ready to arm the opposition.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow was concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya and urged all relevant parties to adhere to the UN resolutions that were aimed at protecting Libyan civilians.
“We are convinced that further worsening of the humanitarian situation in Libya would blight the political settlement,” it said.
A growing number of Libyan refugees, mostly women and children, are seeking refuge near the border crossings of Dhiba and Remada in southern Tunisia.
Some 11,000 Libyans crossed into Tunisia through Dhiba over the past week.
Nearly half a million people, out of the total population of 6 million, have fled Libya since the beginning of hostilities in the North African country in mid-February, and around 330,000 people have been internally displaced, according UN estimates.