Red Cross pulls out of Benghazi amid safety concerns

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 17, 2011 14:00 hrs

Geneva, March 17 (DPA) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has pulled its workers out of Benghazi owing to concerns for their safety, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi made a push Thursday towards the rebel-held city.

The ICRC has been unable to enter Libya's west, as Gaddafi's government said their assistance was not needed, but aid workers did go into the country late last month from the east, where they were accepted by the rebels' transitional government in Benghazi.

The ICRC handed over to the Libyan Red Crescent all its food and medical supplies before its aid team retreated to the more eastern town of Tobruk, closer to the border with Egypt.

'We are extremely concerned about what will happen to civilians, the sick and wounded, detainees and others,' said Simon Brooks, head of the ICRC mission in Libya.

'We will remain in dialogue with both parties with a view to returning to Benghazi and the western part of the country when the security situation permits,' Brooks said, as the team departed late Wednesday from what has become the de-facto capital of the anti- Gaddafi rebellion.