ICRC ferries aid for Libya war wounded into Misrata

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The international Red Cross ferried enough emergency aid for 300 war wounded to the embattled Libyan town of Misrata on Saturday as it fanned out across western Libya for the first time.

A ship chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross docked in Misrata with a cargo of medicine and surgical supplies as well as five ICRC staff after three weeks of continuous fighting in the Libyan port, the ICRC said in a statement.

"We are sending the ship to support Misrata's main hospital by delivering enough medical supplies to treat 300 patients with weapon injuries on the spot," said the head of an ICRC team in Tripoli, Jean-Michel Monod.

"We hope to deliver more emergency supplies in the next few days," he added.

The Libyan opposition said last week that 200 people had been killed there since the fighting began.

The ICRC said the operation was part of an attempt to extend its activities to the western part of Libya with "the support of both the authorities in Tripoli and the National Transitional Council in Benghazi."

Two ICRC delegates and three staff from the Libyan Red Crescent left the capital Tripoli on Saturday for Zawiyah to assess the situation there, mainly for health care, the Geneva-based humanitarian agency said.

Zawiyah, an oil refinery town 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli, has been under the control of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's forces since they routed rebels with a fierce onslaught a month ago.

Meanwhile, heavy shelling by forces loyal to Kadhafi on rebel-held Misrata killed at least four people including two children on Friday, according to a rebel source in the eastern opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

An AFP correspondent brought to Misrata by Libyan authorities reported an intense exchange of fire with light arms, rockets and heavy artillery.

The European Union has told the United Nations that it was ready to bring humanitarian aid to Misrata using military assets if needed, a diplomat said.

A UN-chartered ship carrying food and medical aid arrived there on Thursday.

© 2011 AFP

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