Caroline Alexander
Bloomberg
October 15, 2011

United Nations humanitarian chief warned of the threat to civilians in the Libyan city of Sirte, where fighting has led to shortages of water, food and medical supplies.

Forces loyal to Libya’s interim government and supporters of Muammar Qaddafi must make an effort to “spare civilians from the effects of hostilities, and to comply with international humanitarian law,” Valerie Amos, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, said late yesterday. “The sick and injured must be allowed to seek and receive medical assistance, and both civilians and captured fighters must be treated with respect.”

Thousands of civilians have already fled Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown, during lulls in the fighting, which erupted early last month after talks on the coastal city’s surrender broke down. They have said that electricity has been cut and many people are still holding out for fear of retaliatory attacks.

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