The humanitarian organization didn’t budge the last time its office came under attack in the city of Misrata, Libya. But on Sunday (Aug. 5), the International Committee of the Red Cross decided to suspend all operations in the city and even those in Benghazi.
The decision immediately follows a Sunday morning attack on the organization’s residence in Misrata. While none of the seven Red Cross staff members were hurt, the infrastructure suffered “extensive damage,” according to a press release.
Unidentified individuals used “heavy weaponry” in the attack, including hand and rocket-propelled grenades. These were the same weapons used by a group named Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who claimed responsibility for the attack on Red Cross offices in Benghazi in May. But ICRC spokesman Jean-Yves Clemenzo said the organization does not know who is behind this latest incident, Reuters reports.
This is the fifth time since May that Red Cross facilities and staff members have been subject to violence in the two cities, raising the organization’s concern for the safety of humanitarian workers, particularly its staff members, in Libya.
“We are appalled by this latest act and by the deliberate targeting of our staff: they have put their lives at risk to serve the Libyan people both during and after the conflict,” ICRC delegation in Libya head Ishfaq Muhamed Khan said.
Red Cross staff members will be temporarily relocated following the suspension, which the ICRC said was done with “considerable regret.”
Insecurity in the war-torn country has been a concern prior to the elections in July. Apart from attacks against the Red Cross, the U.S. consulate and a convoy of a British diplomat were attacked in June. This month, seven members of the Iranian Red Crescent Society were abducted by armed men in Benghazi. They were in the country to help the Libyan Red Crescent Society carry out relief work.
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