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Libyan Rebels May Receive Funds From Allies

Jessika Walsten |
May 4, 2011 | 8:07 p.m. PDT

Deputy Editor

(Photo by Al Jazeera English via Flickr)
(Photo by Al Jazeera English via Flickr)
Allies will discuss the possibility of setting up a trust fund to aid Libyan rebels, who are in desperate need of food, medicine and other supplies to continue their fight against Libya's tyrannical leader Muammar Gaddafi.

On Thursday, the Libya Contact Group, consisting of political leaders from around the world, will meet in Rome to talk about the situation in Libya and whether or not a way can be found to help the Transitional National Council, the rebel body governing Benghazi and parts of estern Libya.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the possibility of a trust fund:

The potential $4.5 billion fund, which will be on the agenda when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top diplomats meet in Rome on Thursday, would be guaranteed, and partially filled, by assets of the Gadhafi regime that were frozen by the United Nations and European Union this year, these people said.

Part of the rebels' difficulty in their efforts to bring down Col. Gadhafi's regime stems from their lack of financial muscle. Libya's economy is highly dependent on oil exports, and rebels have struggled to maintain control of ports and other facilities that would enable oil sales.

Rebels also face legal difficulties for funds in the face of sanctions, which prohibit oil export from the country and the transport of weapons into the country, placed on Libya during the crisis.

"We need this for medical supplies, for food supplies, to keep the minimum functions of normal life -- electricity, running hospitals etc," said Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the Transitional National Council, who puts the immediate cost to keep freed Libya running at $1.5 billion.

The Libya Contact Group will also discuss the implementation of more restrictions on the Gaddafi regime, including limitations on arms, the use of mercenaries and the export of crude oil.

Thursday's Rome meeting comes amid growing pressure on Gaddafi to allow humanitarian aid into the rebel-controlled port city of Misrata, which has been the scene of intensified fighting in recent weeks.

An International Organization for Migration ship was attacked Wednesday by forces loyal to Gaddafi, thwarting the vessel's attempt to rescue wounded Libyans, foreign journalists and migrants.

The IOM ship was able to pick up 800 people before it had to leave the port.

"Hundreds of Libyan civilians had also tried to board the ship in desperation to get out of Misurata. But with a limited capacity, the ramp of the boat had to be pulled up so that the ship could pull away from the dock in safety," the IOM said.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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