ICRC returns to Libya's Benghazi amid improved security

18th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The international Red Cross said that improvements in the security situation has allowed its team to return to Libyan rebel stronghold Benghazi on Friday.

"Two days after its temporary relocation to the city of Tobruk in eastern Libya, a four-member team from the International Committee of the Red Cross returned to Benghazi today to resume its humanitarian work," said the relief agency in a statement.

"The improved security situation made it possible for us to return to Benghazi today," added Simon Brooks, the ICRC's head of mission in Libya.

An ICRC spokesman added that the team had returned prior to the ceasefire declared by Moamer Kadhafi's regime.

"We were in Tobruk in the morning, around 9 or 10 in the morning local time, they were on the way. The declaration of the ceasefire came later," Marcal Izard, spokesman for the relief agency, told AFP.

Izard noted that there were reports of fighting in western cities such as Misrata on Friday and that "close to the border with Tunisia, some explosions were also heard."

However, on the road between Tobruk and Benghazi, the team did not witness any clashes, he added.

The ICRC also said that it was moving food and essential household items into Libya that could help tens of thousands of people.

"Seven trucks carrying 145 tonnes of rice, sugar, oil, lentils and salt are on their way from Egypt to Tobruk," it said.

Izard said the team in Benghazi would now assess if the situation permits a bigger group of aid workers to join them.

The ICRC also called on combatants to grant it access into other parties of the country.

"We continue to urge both parties to let us access other cities and areas, so we can assist other people affected by the fighting," said Brooks.

© 2011 AFP

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