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Last updated at 17:10 GMT, Monday, 07 March 2011

Aid agencies concerned about Libya


7 March 2011

There is growing concern for people who have been injured and are dying in the ongoing Libyan conflict. The UN has been granted access, although because fighting is happening in so many different places, providing assistance is very difficult.

Jonathan Marcus

Libyan rebel fighter aiming an anti-aircraft missile

Fighting has been fierce between government and rebel forces in Libya


Click to hear the report:


What increasingly looks like a civil war in Libya is an unusual conflict, since outside humanitarian agencies have so little role in the country. Independent eyes and ears on the ground are essential if there is to be any proper assessment of the humanitarian conditions, and where urgent medical aid needs to be sent.

The lack of any clear picture of the course of the fighting adds to the uncertainty. The United Nations relief co-ordinator, Valerie Amos, pointed especially to the western city of Misrata, where there has been heavy fighting, and which the Red Crescent has been unable to reach with ambulances or aid. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, says that the Libyan authorities have agreed to a humanitarian assessment team going in, but initially, they will only be heading to Tripoli.

There seems to have been a significant misjudgement by the outside world as to the pace and trajectory of events in Libya. The battery of sanctions, diplomatic measures and the referral to the International Criminal Court were pursued at great pace, almost on the assumption that the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, would have been gone by now. The fact that he's fighting back raises the possibility of a lengthy or sporadic conflict, which neither side may be able to win. In the meantime the humanitarian situation will get worse and the calls for outside intervention may grow.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC News


Click to hear the vocabulary:


civil war

conflict between different groups within the same country

humanitarian agencies

organisations that deliver aid to people during wars and crises, or help people who have no food or shelter

eyes and ears on the ground

people who are able to report what is going on there

heavy fighting

particularly violent conflict

the pace

the speed


here, direction (something is moving in)


large number




occasional or short periods of (rather than continuous)


involvement or action to take control of the situation

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