05/10/2011, 00.00
LIBYA

Bishop of Tripoli: Libyans are fleeing the war. Hundreds of thousands of refugees

Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli warns the population is afraid and wants to escape. The call for an immediate ceasefire and the opening of negotiations. Today, meeting between Vatican Secretary of State and the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to discuss the situation in North Africa and the Middle East.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) - "The Libyans are afraid, every day thousands of people leave for Egypt and Tunisia, where refugee camps have been set up. Yesterday more than 30 thousand people fled to Tunisia alone”, , Mgr. Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli tells AsiaNews. According to the prelate, after the meeting of the Contact Group for Libya last May 5, the situation has not changed, "people are afraid and want to leave." Since the beginning of Odyssey Dawn over 600 thousand Libyans, who have fled across the borders.

The prelate spoke to AsiaNews only hours after a series of NATO air strikes that have caused incalculable damage. "We still hearthe airplanes passing over the city and dropping bombs in the surrounding areas - says Martinelli - but for the moment there has been no direct bombing in Tripoli." The prelate once again calls on NATO to immediately sign a ceasefire and open negotiations with the Libyan government, before the situation reaches an irreversible point.

Despite the hardships caused by the war - gasoline and food rationing - the life of the small Catholic community in the capital continues. "Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday - says the bishop - many still faithful take part in the services, especially the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africans, who are a great testimony of faith and charity in this difficult time."

Today in the Vatican, Cardinal. Bertone, Holy See Secretary of State, the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and other members of the Vatican Secretariat of State, will meet to discuss the crisis in North Africa and the Middle East. (S.C.)
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