First $100 million of aid transferred to Libya rebels: UK

29th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libya's cash-strapped rebels have received the first $100 million (70 million euros) from a fund set up by international donors, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday.

The National Transitional Council (NTC), the rebel leadership based in the eastern city of Benghazi, received the money in the past week to pay salaries and buy fuel, Hague told lawmakers in the British parliament.

"In the last week, they received the first $100 million of international funding through the temporary financing mechanism set up by the contact group for vital fuel and salaries," he said.

The rebels, fighting to overthrow Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, complained earlier this month they were running out of money and had not yet received any of the roughly one billion dollars promised by international donors.

At a meeting earlier this month in Abu Dhabi of the contact group on Libya, an alliance of countries and international organisations, donors including Italy and France vowed to help them with cash and supplies.

The rebels -- unable to capitalise on the country's vast oil wealth because of damaged infrastructure -- depend on foreign largesse to pay for basic services and their largely volunteer-led rebellion.

The uprising against Kadhafi began in mid-February and international forces, including Britain, launched air strikes on Libya in March under a UN resolution aimed at protecting civilians from attacks by the veteran leader's forces.

© 2011 AFP

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