Continued fighting in Libya
A funeral in Benghazi for some of the demonstrators who have been killed
The violence in Libya is continuing. The United Nations and the European Union voted on 27 and 28 February to impose sanctions on Muammar Al Qadhafi’s regime; Libya’s membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council has been suspended until further notice. The German Government is deploying German Navy ships to help refugees.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the UN resolution which Germany had been pushing for. They include the freezing of the Qadhafi family’s assets as well as travel bans.
Embargoes were also placed on arms and goods that could be used for purposes of repression. In addition, the UN Security Council has reached the conclusion that the International Criminal Court in The Hague should examine events in Libya.
An anti-Qadhafi demonstration in Benghazi
However, in the light of the continuing violence Guido Westerwelle stated on 6 March that the sanctions adopted to date would not suffice. He went on to say that the Security Council would have to look at the situation in Libya once more.
“It’s clear that the international community’s actions must be authorized by the UN Security Council,” stated the Federal Foreign Minister. What was more, nothing was possible “without the consent of neighbours in the region”.
Extraordinary European Council meeting
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has called the EU Foreign Ministers to an extraordinary meeting on Libya on 10 March. An extraordinary summit of the EU heads of state and government is planned for 11 March. Moreover, Catherine Ashton sent an EU fact-finding team to Libya on 6 March to collect first-hand information on the situation ahead of the summit.
Assistance for refugees
Refugees boarding the frigate 'Rheinland-Pfalz'
In Bratislava on 3 March, Foreign Minister Westerwelle called the images of refugees in Tunisia heart-rending: “Help must be provided now.” Three Bundeswehr vessels are currently being used to repatriate more than four hundred Egyptian nationals who fled to Tunisia to escape the unrest in Libya.
Around 4000 refugees are being taken to Egypt with the help of Bundeswehr ships and under the aegis of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR). In addition, the Federal Foreign Office is funding ten charter flights which are to take another 1900 refugees from Tunisia to Egypt. According to the most recent estimates, the United Nations is reckoning with more than 190,000 refugees.
Protests in Al Baida
Meanwhile, the Federal Foreign Office has made available around 2.8 million euro in humanitarian aid. This is being used to support the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The situation in Libya remains difficult to monitor. Insurgents have gained control of parts of the country. Speaking on state television, Libyan leader Muammar Al Qadhafi has again issued a threat to his opponents that he will fight until the very end. Several high-ranking Government representatives in Libya had already resigned in protest at the brutal conduct of security forces.
German Embassy closed
On 3 March, the German Embassy in Tripoli was closed for the time being on security grounds. The German nationals still in Libya were informed beforehand that this would happen. They have been repeatedly urged to leave the country. Consular assistance for German nationals will henceforth be provided by the Federal Foreign Office crisis unit in Berlin.
In view of the continuing unrest and reports of criminal assaults in the whole country, the Federal Foreign Office is warning against travelling to Libya. High numbers of Germans and other European nationals were flown out of Libya last week.
Last updated 07.03.2011