By Al Russell.
Tripoli, 6 August:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stressed that it will continue to operate in . . .[restrict]Libya, despite suspending operations in Misrata and Benghazi after Sunday’s attack in Misrata, the latest in a series in recent months.
Soaade Messoudi, the ICRC’s Communications Coordinator in Tripoli has emphasised that the organisation’s operations in Libya would continue unaffected, with the sole exception of the temporary withdrawal from Bengahzi and Misrata. Speaking to Libya Herald, she said that the decision to suspend operations in the two places areas had been taken with regret, but the safety of their staff, both foreign and local, had been the primary consideration.
“We remain convinced that the overwhelming majority of the Libyan population support our humanitarian mandate” said Messoudi, who noted that the ICRC was operating in the country in full agreement with the government and the army. “We do not impose our presence”, she said.
Messoudi believes that the organisation may have been targeted by Islamist extremists due to perceptions that it is a Christian organisation. She clarified that the ICRC is a non-religious, non-political aid organisation and that the emblem of a red cross is protected under international law as a symbol of humanitarian aid, rather than having any religious significance.
The organisation was founded in Switzerland, and the IRCR’s emblem, a red cross on a white background, is a reversal of the Swiss flag, a white cross on a red background.
The most recent attack on the ICRC took place on Saturday, when unidentified assailants attacked its compound in Misrata with rocket-propelled grenades. None of the seven staff present at the time was hurt.