Concern for civilians rise in Libya

The International Committee of the Red Cross has voiced concern about the possible civilian loss of life as Western forces launch an onslaught against Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

Press TV interviewed Carla Haddad from the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding the issue.

Press TV: The military action that has now been taken in Libya -some are saying it is the only solution to resolve the situation in Libya, and others at the same time are saying this could lead to an open-ended conflict and create instability in the region with the African Union already expressing opposition. What do you think?

Haddad: This is a political question and as a spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross I won’t be able to speculate on that. However our key concern in the current situation is about the safety of civilians. We think that civilians are at a high risk in this escalating conflict. We have real concerns, and would like to remind all the parties in this conflict about their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Press TV: So these reports that have been coming in from Libyan state television that those who have been killed are civilians. Has your organization had any confirmations about who has been targeted or the number of the casualties?

Haddad: We don’t have any comprehensive figures on the number of casualties, and we are waiting to get more information. Our key concern is that our parties in the conflict, whether it’s the international forces, the armed opposition, or the Libyan government forces, all of them that are engaging in this conflict today need to abide by the rules and principals of international humanitarian law.

They have to make sure there are no attacks that directly target a civilian population. This is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law. It also prohibits the use of human shields and likewise. Our main concern is the safety of civilians.

Press TV: Does the committee fear huge human cost from this reaction especially if it takes longer than it is expected?

Haddad: Our concern started days ago. It’s not just linked to the start of airstrikes. It’s about the conflict that has started already between the opposition and Libyan government forces in the government. It is at another level now. There is the implication of international forces. So we need to remind everyone of the rules. The war is taking place but there are rules of war that need to be respected. We urge all the parties to allow humanitarian organizations safe access to war affected areas because we are still asking for access to the Western parts of Libya, and now we need to access every war effected area to help people in need especially civilians who are wounded in the battlefield.

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