October 20, 2011 / 3:51 PM / in 8 years

Mass graves still being found in Libya: Red Cross

GENEVA (Reuters) - Dead bodies are being found regularly in mass graves, hospitals and other sites in Libya, including on roadsides, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

The humanitarian agency said many bodies had not been claimed, but that thousands of families were waiting to find out what had happened to missing loved ones. It gave no estimate of the number of unclaimed bodies.

Ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed on Thursday as Libya’s new leaders overran Sirte, the last bastion of his long rule, sparking wild celebrations that eight months of war may finally be over.

“In various parts of Libya, human remains are being discovered regularly in mass graves, hospitals and other sites,” the ICRC said in a statement on its aid operations.

The ICRC, which has deployed forensic experts in Libya, said it was taking on an advisory role to help transitional authorities deal with the issue of the missing.

ICRC officials this week helped complete the exhumation of five bodies at a mass grave at Al Qa’laa, in the Jebel Nefusa mountains in western Libya, the statement said.

This month an ICRC team came across eight dead bodies that had been left unburied or covered by sand along a road between the Red Valley and an area southwest of Sirte.

Throughout the siege of Sirte, the ICRC delivered medical supplies to the city’s Ibn Sina Hospital as it struggled to treat casualties.

An ICRC water engineer had been due to repair the hospital’s water system on Thursday, but the security situation prevented the team reaching the site, ICRC spokesman Steven Anderson said.

The ICRC had evacuated 49 patients from Sirte in the past two weeks, mainly war-wounded but also a baby in an incubator.

The statement said ICRC officials had also visited 50 places of detention throughout Libya holding more than 7,000 people. They included 1,500 foreigners, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Mona Rishmawi, a U.N. human rights official, said last week that the office had seen serious allegations and some evidence of torture of detainees in post-Gaddafi Libya.

The ICRC monitors prisoners’ treatment and conditions, but its confidential findings are shared only with detaining authorities. It interviews detainees in private and enables them to phone their families.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay

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