• Press Release

Libyan Civilians and Foreign Migrants at Risk Amid Tripoli Battle, Says Amnesty International

August 23, 2011

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) – Amnesty International today warned that prolonged fighting in the Libyan capital Tripoli endangers civilian lives and has the potential to create a humanitarian crisis.

Clashes between the National Transitional Council (NTC) and forces loyal to Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi have continued in the city with both sides claiming to control most of the capital.

"The risk to civilians increases with each day of violence in Tripoli, not just for people caught up in the fighting but also because conditions could become dire if residential areas are affected by the clashes, with food supplies, water and electricity all likely to be hit," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director.

There are also fears for the safety of thousands of foreign migrant workers, including those trying to escape the country, after a rescue boat from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was reportedly unable to dock in Tripoli this morning due to security concerns.

"Foreign migrant workers stuck in Libya, many of them from sub-Saharan African countries, are very vulnerable," said Smart. "Not only does the volatile situation on the ground prevent them from fleeing, they may also be targeted for being perceived as 'mercenaries.'"

The battle for Tripoli shows no sign of abating today, especially since the public emergence of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, whom NTC forces yesterday said they had captured.

Saif al-Islam and Colonel al-Gaddafi, along with military intelligence chief Abdallah al-Sanussi, are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

"Colonel al-Gaddafi and others who are accused of orchestrating the bloody crackdown in Libya must be held to account in accordance with international law," said Smart.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.


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For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.