By The Voice of the Cape
31 August 2010 (last modified 20 June 2011)
Europe’s foreign ministers Monday urged the use of frozen funds to finance Libya’s opposition, which has complained of a cash shortfall after failing to receive aid pledged by international donors. In a statement on Libya, the 27 European Union ministers said the bloc “acknowledges the urgent financial needs of the (opposition) Transitional National Council”. They also welcomed specific cash contributions by Italy and France, which is releasing frozen funds to the rebels.
Extra global aid to the Benghazi-based opposition “where possible” could include “the use of frozen Libyan funds”, the ministers said. “Measures in this regard will respect the rule of law,” the statement added. Libyan rebel forces said Sunday they were running out of money and had not yet received any of the roughly one billion dollars promised by international donors earlier this month.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said there had been “some technical difficulties” in getting a mechanism for transferring funds to the rebels up and running. The EU statement said mobilising resources was key to backing a transition process towards fulfilling the aspirations of the Libyan people.
The rebels for their part said the mechanism for transferring funds had been set up. “(The) funds should have been deposited from last week and none have been deposited to date,” council vice chairman and spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga said. At a conference in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, donors vowed to help with cash and supplies. Italy promised loans and aid worth 300 to 400 million euros ($438 million to $584 million). France, meanwhile, said it would release 290 million euros of frozen Libyan funds for the rebel council.
Diplomats said $180 million had been pledged by Kuwait and $100 million by Qatar. The upheaval in Libya has left many out of work. Schools and universities remain closed and hospitals are understaffed after foreign workers fled the fighting. The council has set out a budget for around $3.5 billion for the next six months. SAPA