ICRC defends role in Libya

Aug. 16, 2012 at 11:18 AM   |   Comments

TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The ICRC has no religious agenda and maintains neutrality as a humanitarian relief agency despite attacks on its staff in Libya, a director said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said seven members of its staff were attacked, but unharmed, by armed gangs in Misurata recently. The organization said the attack marked the fifth time in three months that its staff members were attacked there or in Benghazi. Operations there by the aid group have been suspended.

Ishfaq Muhamad Khan, head of the ICRC delegation in Libya, said there was a "flare-up of misunderstandings" about the role of the aid organization.

"We know that some in the country don't see the difference between the ICRC and what they perceive to be Western agencies," he said in a statement.

Khan said there were some groups concerned the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society emblems represented religious affiliation.

"The ICRC is not involved in any kind of political or religious activities, neither in Libya nor in any other country in the world," he said.

The European Union has expressed concern about human rights violations in the country since Moammar Gadhafi's government collapsed last year.

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