The U.N. committee monitoring sanctions against Libya will consider requests from Moammar Gadhafi's government and the rebel government in Benghazi to unfreeze funds to pay for medicine and other urgent humanitarian needs for the Libyan people, the committee chairman said Friday.
Portugal's U.N. Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral said the rival governments have sent letters, which have been circulated to the 15 council nations, seeking funds so they can buy humanitarian items.
He told reporters there appears to be a consensus among the council members that this was a legitimate exception to the sanctions regime.
"Everyone is concerned," Moraes Cabral said. "But obviously to unfreeze the assets we must have concrete requests from both sides."
He said as soon as these proposals are received they will be expedited as quickly as possible.
Moraes Cabral said that if there is "an agreement in principle of both sides" for the use of frozen funds to meet the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people "without any discrimination and through a totally transparent process ... it would obviously, I believe, help the committee in approving quickly the concrete requests that we may receive."
He said the committee does not want anything like the $64 billion oil-for-food program in Iraq, the biggest humanitarian program in U.N. history. Under the program, which ran from 1996 to 2003, Iraq was allowed to sell oil provided most of the money went to buy humanitarian goods.
But a U.N.-sanctioned investigation found widespread corruption, involving thousands of parties, that bilked the humanitarian program of $1.8 billion.
Moraes Cabral said he envisions humanitarian goods for Libya being purchased and distributed by U.N. agencies or other international organizations that are "beyond any suspicions" and ensure "the transparency and even-handedness of the process."
The Security Council on Feb. 26 imposed an arms embargo on Libya and ordered all countries to freeze assets and ban travel for Gadhafi and some close associates. That list was expanded in a second resolution on March 17 which froze the assets of additional individuals, major Libyan banks and the Libyan National Oil Corporation.