NEWS

Crete proposed as hub for Libya huminatrian effort

Greece has offered to act as a hub for humanitarian aid to Libya once the United Nations begins its efforts to get supplies to citizens in the war-torn country, it has emerged.

Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas made the offer to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Doha, Qatar, on the sidelines of the first meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya on Wednesday. Droutsas proposed Crete should be used to ferry humanitarian assistance to Libya. Sources said Ban agreed to Greece?s proposal. The UN is expected to head the scheme and a Greek, Panos Moumtzis, the UNHCR?s head of donor relations, could be in charge of coordinating the effort.

Moumtzis headed the UN refugee agency?s appeal in March to donors for 32 million dollars to fund its continuing emergency response operations for the Libya crisis. The bulk of the supplementary funding was to be used for protection needs, to support the continuing humanitarian evacuation of thousands of people stuck in Tunisia and Egypt, and for lifesaving aid supplies.

In Doha, Droutsas also met with a representative of the Libyan rebels, Mahmoud Jibril, to discuss Greece?s offer to help with humanitarian aid and the transportation of anyone injured in the fighting.

The foreign ministers of 21 countries and representatives of international and regional organizations participated in the contact group, which was set up following a meeting in London on March 29.

Droutsas reiterated publicly that Greece supports a political solution to the battle between Colonel Muammar Gadhafi?s regime and the rebels. Athens is currently allowing foreign fighter jets to use two bases in Greece to take part in the NATO-led operation to maintain a no-fly zone over Libya.