Red Cross withdraws from Libya's Benghazi

16th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Red Cross said it withdrew its staff from Libyan rebel stronghold Benghazi Wednesday and moved them east to Tobruk, although it planned to return when security improved.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross today transferred its staff in Benghazi to the eastern city of Tobruk, where it will continue to assist victims of the conflict," the relief agency said in a statement.

It said that before leaving, the team handed over to the local Red Crescent society food and other relief provisions covering up to 15,000 people's needs for a month.

"As we leave Benghazi and Ajdabiya after almost 20 days, we are extremely concerned about what will happen to civilians, the sick and wounded, detainees and others who are entitled to protection in times of conflict," said Simon Brooks, head of the ICRC mission in Libya.

"We will remain in dialogue with both parties with a view to returning to Benghazi and the western part of the country when the security situation permits," he added.

The ICRC's move came amid claims from forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi that they have captured Ajdabiya, a key town on the road to Benghazi.

Rebels have denied the claim although an AFP journalist had witnessed their hasty withdrawal toward Benghazi.

© 2011 AFP

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