“Appeal to all who bear responsibility”

France, Britain and the U.S. have launched the first wave of attacks on Libyan strongman Gadhafi's forces – apparently dozens of people have already died. Following pax christi, Pope Benedict XVI has now also said. called for the protection of the Libyan population.

"I make an urgent appeal to all those with political and military responsibilities to ensure, above all, the integrity and safety of citizens and to guarantee access to humanitarian aid," the pope said Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

Benedict XVI said he was following the "recent events" in the North African country with "great concern" and was praying for all involved and for peace in the country in this "dramatic situation". He said he wanted to reaffirm his solidarity with the people of Libya.He said the "disturbing news" about the events had also caused him great "unease and fear".

Red Cross warns
The troops of ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi, the rebels and Western powers must spare the lives of civilians at all costs, the spokeswoman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Carla Haddad Mardini, told epd on Sunday (20.03.2011). Fighting in densely populated cities like Benghazi, in particular, could greatly increase civilian casualties, he said. "Military attacks on localities almost inevitably result in casualties among the population."

"We call on all parties to the conflict to strictly respect international humanitarian law and always distinguish between military and civilian objectives," Mardini stressed. According to international law, the use of so-called human shields is also strictly prohibited.
According to media reports, the Gaddafi regime has posted a number of people in front of important buildings to deter Western forces from attacking them.

No access to large parts
Since Saturday, Western countries have been flying air strikes against Gaddafi's troops and bases. The UN had authorized countries to use air power against the Gaddafi regime to protect the population from attacks by the dictator.

The Red Cross and other aid organizations still do not have access to large parts of the country, he said. "We cannot help many victims of the violence," said Mardini. He said the Red Cross planned to visit wounded and injured people in Benghazi hospitals on Sunday.

More than 300.000 people had fled the North African country before the start of the Western intervention; they were mainly migrants. By the middle of the current week, the UN had estimated a total of about 400.000 refugees from Libya. Diplomats stressed in Geneva on Sunday that the actual number of refugees, given the escalating violence, would likely far exceed 400.000.

Iraqi archbishop skeptical of upheaval
Iraqi Archbishop Louis Sako is concerned about the current upheavals in the North African and Arab regions. He was not so sure whether the next leaders would pursue a more open course, Sako said in Wurzburg on Sunday. In his country, he said, the situation had "slightly improved". Nevertheless, the exodus of Christians continues. 600.000 of them had left Iraq in the meantime.

Even in Iran, where there had once been four dioceses, only 10 were still living.000 Christians, the archbishop regretted. Yet Christians were there before Islam arrived: "It's our country," Sako stressed. However, if Islamization continues, "eventually there will be no Christians left". The church leader expressed his views at the World Church Congress of the Catholic relief organization "Kirche in Not" (Church in Need).

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