Independent newspaper reports of fierce street fighting in Misurata yesterday, were substantiated by a UK Ministry of Defence press release which confirmed that RAF Tornado GR4 Aircraft (Operation Ellamy) knocked out five pro-Ghaddafi heavy tanks preventing them from overrunning an undisclosed suburb in Misurata.
The protection of civilians across Libya remains a serious concern as pro-government forces show no sign of caving in to international demands to implement an immediate ceasefire.
International advocacy organizations, the United Nations and the humanitarian community continue to express concern over the presence of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and indiscriminate access to weapons depots in eastern Libya and areas exposed to fighting. Children are at particular risk with media reports indicating that an undetermined number of civilians have been caught up in the fighting, resulting in civilian casualties, including women and children.
The International Organization for Migration has been advised that 6,000 third-country nationals, including Egyptians and sub-Saharan Africans, need to be evacuated from Misurata. According to media reports, hundreds of third-country nationals are stranded in Misurata and living conditions under tents and tarpaulins are precarious and deteriorating.
On the 1st April, a Eufor spokesman suggested that evacuations could take place via the airport, however, disagreements between France and Italy relating to the freedom of movement of Tunisian refugees as well as the fact that the EU Commission will not trigger the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC), in the near future. In the increasingly beleaguered enclaves, the situation is inexorably moving towards what some have called the “unpredicted consequences” of Resolution 1973. With no sign of a ceasefire at the 60 day milestone, the Security Council may well have to go back to the drawing board.
(Source: The Telegraph, UK Ministry of Defence, UNOCHA)