US approves “nonlethal” aid for Libyan rebels

The US is sending $25 million in nonlethal aid to Libyan rebels to cover “vehicles, fuel trucks and fuel bladders, ambulances, medical equipment, protective vests, binoculars, and non-secure radios,” the White House informed Congress April 21 in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A State Department official told ABC News the aid will be “in support of key partners, including the Transitional National Council.” The letter does not state whether US military advisors will be involved in providing the aid. (ABC News, April 20)

The siege in Misrata, the one western city still held by the rebels is now two months old, with hastily dug graves proliferating and hospitals overflowing. Qaddafi’s forces are believed to have killed at least 1,000 in the city—around 90% civilians who died under indiscriminate shelling or shooting. (The Guardian, April 21)

Ajdabiya, the closest city to the frontline in the east, has turned into a ghost town, with most of the residents having fled. Local charity groups that have sprung up in Benghazi are providing aid for the displaced. Funding comes from the Benghazi-based Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) and from international NGOs. (IRIN, April 20)

AlJazeera reports that revenge attacks and vigilante justice against perceived Qaddafi collaborators are widespread in Benghazi—including at least one public beheading. Foreign workers, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, continue to be especially targeted. (AlJazeera, April 21)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Tripoli authorities to “stop fighting and stop killing people,” adding: “At this time our priority is to bring about a verifiable and effective ceasefire, and then we can expand our humanitarian assistance, and we are going to engage in political dialogue.” (AlJazeera, April 21)

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