Libya Now Faces Humanitarian Crisis As Rebels Take Over

The turmoil in Libya continues, as rebels succeed in their takeover of Tripoli and hunt for Colonel Gaddafi. The violence-stricken country now faces a humanitarian crisis as living conditions become increasingly desperate.

A new battle is facing rebels in Tripoli, who were trying to cope with depleting reserves of water, electricity, petrol and food on Saturday. In recent days, residents have experienced power outages, lack of running water and rubbish pile-ups.

Prices on everything from milk to petrol have skyrocketed.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that “reports on the ground suggest that the water supply to the capital and surrounding region may be in danger – putting several million people, or more, at risk.”

Libyan rebels said that they are doing their best to restore services to residents, including their intention to distribute 30,000 tons of gasoline.

National Transitional Council spokesman Mahmud Shammam said on Saturday, “Tripoli was under tight control of the dictatorship for 42 years. We are starting from point zero in this situation. Do not ask for miracles, but we promise to try to make this difficult period as short as we can.”

In other recent developments in Libya:

• German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on Saturday that Moammar Gaddafi should be tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Merkel told the weekly Bild am Sonntag that while Germany did not take part in the Nato-led military campaign that ousted Gaddafi, she would not rule out sending German troops to Libya in participation with the UN stabilisation mission.

• Rebels captured the Ras Jdir border on the frontier with Tunisia on Friday, in an attempt to claim a post that rebels suspect Gaddafi may use to escape Libya. A Tunisian official said that Gaddafi loyalists fled as more than 100 rebels arrived. There were no known clashes during the takeover.

• Six cars carrying high level Libyan officials crossed into Algeria on Friday. A Libyan rebel source told the official Egyptian news agency that it was suspected that one of the cars could have been carrying Gaddafi and his sons, but reports remain unconfirmed. Algeria so far refuses to acknowledge Libya’s National Transitional Council and is adhering to a policy of “strict neutrality.”

• Nato warplanes bombed a bunker in Sirte on Friday, the birthplace of Gaddafi and one of the last major pro-regime holdouts east of Tripoli. The planes also hit 29 armed vehicles as they moved towards rebel-held Misrata.

• Bodies piled up in and around a hospital in Tripoli after fighting finally ended Thursday. Loyalist snipers had held the hospital, located in the pro-Gaddafi neighbourhood of Abu Slim, since Saturday with access in and out strictly limited. Few medical staff or supplies remain. On Friday, the Red Cross evacuated the 17 survivors to the capital’s central hospital.