Qaddafi forces advance on opposition stronghold threatening civilians in Libya’s second largest city

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(Washington, DC) – The Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition (GI-NET / SDC) today called on the United States to make every effort possible to ensure UN Security Council approval of a no-fly zone over Libya.  The Security Council is expected to vote today on a resolution authorizing the no-fly zone, as a major offensive by Libyan government forces against the eastern city of Benghazi appears imminent.

“Our responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Libya is clear, and it is past time to take action,” stated Mark Hanis, President of Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition.

Credible reports indicate more than a thousand civilians have been killed since February 15th. Many more civilians are in danger now, as Libyan forces approach the country’s second largest city, home to approximately one million people.

“The United States can seize this critical opportunity to lead in the prevention of further atrocities in Libya,” stated Hanis. “The Libyan people and Arab League have called upon the international community to act. It is with utmost urgency that the United States should take every step possible to ensure that the United Nations passes a robust resolution authorizing a no-fly zone.”

If Qaddafi gains control of the Benghazi, many fear the civilian population is at risk of being targeted for reprisals. Wednesday afternoon—as a sign the situation may deteriorate rapidly—the International Committee of the Red Cross evacuated its personnel from Benghazi, urging “all of those taking part [in the violence] to spare civilians and medical staff.”

Lebanon, France and the United Kingdom have introduced a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council authorizing a no-fly zone to protect civilians.  A vote on the resolution is expected today.

“The United States must do everything it can to ensure passage of the resolution,” stated Hanis. “We are urging the U.S. to vote in favor of the resolution and work behind-the-scenes to encourage other members of the Security Council to do the same. Time is of the essence.”

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The Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network merged on November 1, 2010 to create a more powerful voice dedicated to preventing and stopping large-scale, deliberate atrocities against civilians. The organization remains committed to its work to end the crisis in Darfur and bring peace to all of Sudan as well as to end violence in other areas of mass atrocities such as Congo and Burma.  The merger creates the world’s largest anti-genocide organization, with a membership base of hundreds of thousands of committed activists globally, an unparalleled nationwide student movement, more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights partner organizations, and a network of institutional investors with over $700 billion in assets under management.

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