Apostolic Vicar in Libya: Bombs Aren't Working

Says Greatest Threat Is Inability to Look for Peaceful Solution

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TRIPOLI, Libya, MARCH 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- According to the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, the bombings by European forces are not resolving anything and the international community would do well to turn to the African Union to provide a peaceful solution.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli told Fides: "I have trust in African wisdom to resolve the crisis. The Europeans delude themselves that they can resolve this matter with bombs. We need to allow room for mediation by the African Union."

Last month, protestors in Libya began calling for the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, the country's leader for 42 years. The protest soon escalated into armed conflict, with Gaddafi controlling Tripoli and the rebel leaders making their headquarters in Benghazi.

In the wake of reports of "massacres" of the protestors and bombings of the rebel forces by Gaddafi, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1973 last week. This resolution authorized the international community to establish a no-fly zone, and to allow for the use of "all means necessary" for the protection of Libyan civilians.

On Saturday, several countries launched bombing attacks on the Libyan military systems in Tripoli and elsewhere.

Bishop Martinelli stated to Fides, "I am not afraid of the bombs, but rather the inability to try and dialogue to find a peaceful solution."

He reported on Wednesday: "The bombing continues. The explosions haven't stopped from last night to early this morning. It has been awful. There seems to be a pause for the moment.

"But I repeat, I am not afraid of the bombs as much as I am the inability of everyone to find a peaceful solution."

The prelate noted that on Wednesday evening that "Gaddafi reappeared on television and said that he will never surrender."

End to violence

The apostolic vicar urged, "We need to reach a truce to end the violence and deaths, and then create dialogue between the parties."

"War does not solve anything," he said. "I don't know how this new war will finish that is reawakening sad memories about the Libyans' recent history."

Bishop Martinelli affirmed: "I keep repeating that we need to cease shooting immediately and begin mediation straight away to resolve the crisis peacefully. Why have diplomatic means not been considered?"

"What worries me is the situation of African refugees," he continued, "who continue to knock on our doors, hoping that the Church can help them get to Europe. But this is not our task.

"We try instead to persuade them to go to Tunisia where they can be assisted by international organizations. Here now in Tripoli we can only offer assistance to the most difficult cases."

He reported that "there was an attempt, though not well organized, to for about 400 asylum seekers to leave on a ship bound for Italy."

The prelate continued: "The ship turned back after travelling just a few dozen miles. They reported engine failure.

"It was a way to extort more money from these poor people, or perhaps something else."