Emergency NATO, UN Meetings To Respond To Crisis In Libya

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International efforts to respond to the crisis in Libya gathered pace on Friday, as forces loyal to embattled leader Moammer Gaddafi continued brutal repression of anti-government protests in that North African country.

The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has begun meeting in emergency session in Geneva to discuss the crisis. Libyan ambassador to the UN did not reportedly turn up.

NATO Secretary-General has convened an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Friday afternoon to consult among member-states on the "fast-moving situation" in Libya.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet later on Friday in New York to consider further action, possibly sanctions, against the authoritarian regime in Tripoli.

The UNHRC is expected to demand Libya's expulsion - an unprecedented move against a member state - from the global body that champions protection of universal human rights, the BBC reported.

UNHRC Commissioner Navi Pillay condemned the Gaddafi regime's use of violence against unarmed protesters as "crimes against humanity."

She said reports from Libya, where access to media is severely restricted, indicated that thousands might have been killed or injured as the government crackdown escalated "alarmingly."

U.S. President Barack Obama has been in consultations with the leaders of Britain, France and Italy as part of seeking consensus on actions, and suggested a range of possible measures, from humanitarian assistance to sanctions.

Talking to the media during a visit to Budapest on Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed great concern over what is happening in Libya.

He said the "crisis in our immediate neighborhood affects the lives and safety of Libyan civilians and those of thousands of citizens from NATO member-states. Many countries are now evacuating their citizens from Libya - clearly, a massive challenges."

The NATO's executive head is scheduled to discuss with EU Defense Ministers "how we, in a pragmatic way, can help those in need and limit the consequences of these events," before returning to Brussels.

He hinted that priority would be given to evacuation and humanitarian assistance.

NATO can act as an enabler and coordinator if and when individual member-states want to take action, he told reporters.

Rasmussen had already made it clear that NATO currently had no plans to intervene in that oil-rich country.

Responding to a question at a press conference during his visit to Ukrainian capital Kiev on Thursday, Rasmussen said the alliance did not receive any request in that regard and added that any actions should be based on a U.N. mandate.

Opposition supporters in Tripoli have planned to protest in Green Square after Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, the U.N. food agency World Food Program warned that Libya's food supply chain is "at risk of collapsing."

Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who quit as Libya's Justice Minister in protest against the brutal repression of anti-government protests, has warned that Gaddafi may resort to biological and chemical weapons to regain control of larger parts of the country.

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