25 August 2011
©Reuters/ AlertnetIn the midst of intense fighting in the Libyan capital Tripoli, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped journalists trapped in the Rixos Hotel leave yesterday and led them to safety.
The reporters had been under armed guard and unable to leave the hotel for several days.
Georges Comninos, the head of the ICRC delegation in Libya, said: "We have taken 33 journalists and two other foreign nationals from the Rixos Hotel to a safe place. Our recognized role as a neutral intermediary enabled us to carry out this operation. We are glad that everything went smoothly, but we remain concerned about other civilians and journalists who may find themselves in danger."
At around 4.30pm local time, six ICRC staff arrived at the hotel with four vehicles and helped transfer the journalists and the two other foreign nationals to a safe location in Tripoli. They expressed joy and relief at having left the hotel.
Protection for journalists
Journalists are protected under international humanitarian law. "Media professionals are entitled to the same protection as civilians. They must be protected and respected," said Georges Comninos.
The ICRC, which operates a hotline for journalists on dangerous assignments, had been contacted by several news organisations concerned about the safety and well-being of their staff.
Since the beginning of the year, it has received around 50 requests for help from media organisations and families of journalists.
Read more about protecting people in armed conflict