France has secured U.N. approval to release €1.5 billion ($2.14 billion) worth of Libyan assets frozen in French banks, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced Sept. 1. The approval came as leaders of Libya’s National Transitional Council and representatives of more than 60 countries and international organizations meet to discuss the country’s humanitarian, rehabilitation and political needs.
The meeting in France focused on measures to address immediate humanitarian needs in Libya, CNN said. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the urgency of responding to the humanitarian challenge, given the water shortage and the extreme pressure on hospitals and clinics. Key cities, including Tripoli, are facing shortages in medical personnel as well as diminishing fuel supplies, according to aid officials.
“The biggest problem is a shortage of nurses, because they left,” EU aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said, according to The Associated Press.
NTC prime minister Mahmoud Jibril and chairman Mustafa Abdel-Jalil talked about the need for reconstruction aid and technical assistance. To finance its plans, the council outlined requests for financial assistance as well as access to more Libyan financial assets frozen by several governments earlier this year, The Associated Press says.
The U.N. Sanctions Committee has already approved proposals from the United States and United Kingdom to unfreeze portions of the Libyan assets held in their banks to help ease the humanitarian situation in the African country. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the NTC has already received $700 million of the unfrozen funds, which will be used to pay for fuel costs and salaries. An additional $800 million should be released shortly.
The smooth release of these assets, however, is in question as a dispute over who should handle the money arises.
The European Union also lifted its hold on the assets of 28 Libyan entities in a bid to boost the country’s economic functions, particularly its ports and energy and banking sectors.
Meanwhile, Australia has donated an additional 4.6 Australian dollars ($4.9 million) to the International Committee of the Red Cross, bringing the country’s total contribution to humanitarian operations in Libya to AU$41.1 million.
Australia’s contribution will be used to provide medical assistance, food and water in Tripoli and other conflict-afflicted areas.
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