LIBYA: United Nations chief warns of escalating toll from violent crackdown
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community Friday to take "concrete action" against Libya, where he said the death toll from recent violence exceeds 1,000 and the brutal repression of protesters "may amount to crimes against humanity."
A resolution brought before the 15-nation Security Council calls for sanctions against the regime of embattled strongman Moammar Kadafi and a probe by the International Criminal Court in The Hague into the use of force against Libyan citizens.
The draft resolution prepared by French and British diplomats cited escalating "murders and torture," and proposed an arms embargo, a travel boycott and freezing of regime assets abroad.
Security Council members were debating the resolution behind closed doors and were unlikely to vote on it Friday. Resistance to its adoption was expected from Russia and China -- both permanent members with veto power and distaste for outside interference into what they consider the domestic affairs of sovereign nations.
Ban said the unrest in Libya had driven 37,000 refugees into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, and that many more want to flee but are too afraid to leave their homes because of the deadly confrontations between Kadafi's security forces and those protesting for an end to his 41-year rule.
"It is time for the Security Council to consider concrete action," Ban said, noting that the world body's Human Rights Council recommended suspending Libya from its ranks at a Geneva meeting earlier Friday.
Libya's former deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, urged the Security Council to intervene to protect Libyans from Kadafi, a leader who he said would attempt to stay in power at all costs.
"We expect thousands to be killed today in Tripoli, so I call on all the international community to intervene now and to send a clear message to Colonel Kadafi that he should stop the killing now," said Dabbashi, who broke with the Kadafi regime earlier this week, at U.N. headquarters as world diplomats were convening to tackle the escalating Libyan security threat.
--Carol J. Williams