World leaders back Libyan rebel fighters

World leaders back Libyan rebel fighters

UN warns of humanitarian crisis

At the first meeting of the “International Contact Group on Libya” in the Qatari capital Doha, which marked the debut of the Libyan rebels on the world stage, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that up to 3.6 million people in Libya may eventually require humanitarian aid, more than half of the country’s population.

He also urged nations to speak with “one voice” on the issue. Italy, on its part, said it wanted the international community to consider arming Libyan rebels.

“The discussion about arming the rebels is definitely on the table... to defend themselves,” Italy’s Maurizio Massari said on the sidelines of the meeting.

“The UN resolution... does not forbid arming” and “we need to provide the rebels all possible defensive means,” he added.But, Belgian Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle opposed the idea, saying the UN resolution speaks about protecting civilians, not arming them. Inaugurating the summit, Crown Prince of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said Libya was facing a humanitarian crisis.

“The suffering of the Libyan people is not a natural disaster —it is the outcome of political decisions and political behaviour,” he was quoted as saying by the media.

According to BBC, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that “any viable ceasefire, any viable peaceful future for Libya must involve the departure of Col Gadhafi so such statements may be clearer as a result of our conference.”

He said Gadhafi’s government was “internationally isolated”, adding that “it has no future under some of the most sweeping sanctions that the United Nations has ever adopted and so the writing is on the wall for the Gadhafi regime."

On the eve of the meeting, a spokesman for the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC), which is seeking international recognition, said they would accept nothing short of the removal of Gadhafi and his sons from the country. “We want to move from the de facto recognition of the council to an internationally-recognised legitimacy,” the spokesman, Mahmud Shammam, said.

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