This is how NATO is defending civilians in Libya

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ON Saturday, the Red Cross visited Sirte, which has been under intense bombardment and shelling from NATO planes and ships, and by NATO’s ground forces of the NTC for the last three weeks. NATO is now using the same illegal phosphorus bombs that Israel used in its recent deadly assault on Gaza!

A week ago Moussa Ibrahim reported that NATO had killed 2,000 civilians in the previous week.

The ICRC team included a doctor and reached Ibn Sina hospital, inside Sirte, delivering urgently needed surgical material to treat about 200 wounded people, including dressing kits, body-bags, and 400 litres of fuel to run the hospital’s generator.

Said Hichem Khadraoui, who headed the operation, ‘The hospital is facing a huge influx of patients, medical supplies are running out and there is a desperate need for oxygen. On top of that, the water reservoir has been damaged.’

The Red Cross reported that, ‘Due to the volatile security situation’ – ie the danger of being murdered by NATO – ‘the team could not stay long enough to fully assess the humanitarian needs of civilians.’ That said, the ICRC team has been able to meet with representatives of civil society, who reported dire needs in terms of drinking water, food supplies – in particular baby food – and hygiene items. ‘We are committed to returning to Sirte as soon as possible,’ said Khadraoui.

An earlier ICRC statement said: ‘Civilians fleeing Sirte report that water and electricity in the city are cut most of the time, food reserves are very low and access to health care is very difficult We are also hearing about severe shortages of medical supplies in the hospital. We are increasingly concerned about the humanitarian situation there.’

This again is NATO intervening to protect civilians. The ICRC statement added: ‘The ICRC is stepping up its efforts to obtain access to Sirte as rapidly as possible. It has a ship loaded with medical and relief supplies that is ready to leave from the port of Misrata.’

Clearly, NATO is not willing to cease fire to allow the ship to dock so that the sick, the hungry and the wounded can be helped.

The ICRC added: ‘Around 3,000 displaced people, including many children, women and elderly people, are dispersed in a desert area between Sirte and Harawa, some 30 kilometres east of Sirte.

These people don’t want to go any further. Despite very difficult living conditions, they want to remain as close as possible to their houses. They have no proper toilets or showers, and they do not have enough drinking water. Diarrhoea and fever are spreading. No health care is reaching them.’

Again this is NATO’s good work, with Hague, Cameron and Sarkozy at the helm. Conditions in the other cities besieged by NATO are no different.

What of the liberated areas? Surely they are feeling all of the benefits of NATO’s attention.

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling on Libya’s ‘new rulers’ to stop armed groups from rounding up suspected Muammar Gadaffi supporters and abusing them, saying that some detainees reporting beatings and electric shocks ‘had the scars to prove it’.

HRW added that it had visited 20 detention facilities in Tripoli and interviewed 53 inmates, including 37 Libyans and 16 sub-Saharan Africans.

The group said some black Libyans and detainees from sub-Saharan Africa were even forced to do manual labour, including carrying heavy materials, cleaning and renovating buildings around Tripoli or on military bases. The report was based on prison visits between August 31 and last Thursday.

HRW said thousands had been jailed, including women and children, and none had been brought before a judge. Detainees who reported abuse said guards had beaten them, sometimes on a daily basis. Seven prisoners in two facilities, including women, said guards had given them electric shocks.

The situation is clear. It is NATO that is the war criminal along with its NTC ground forces. It is Hague, Cameron and Sarkozy that must be sent to The Hague, not Gadaffi. It is a disgrace that the trade unions in the UK have not lifted a finger to stop the UK’s dirty imperialist war in Libya! There must be action without delay!