The U.N. Security Council on Friday allowed releasing of $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets, held by the U.S., to assist in delivering humanitarian aid and other basic services to people in the war-torn country.
The decision to allow releasing of funds came after the U.S. and South Africa reached a deal, which prevented the Security Council from having to vote on a draft resolution that the U.S. had submitted on the issue yesterday.
The U.S. has been seeking release of the funds aimed at helping Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) in delivering emergency and health services in the country.
However, South Africa has blocked such request at the U.N. sanctions committee on Libya saying sanctions imposed on Libya should not be eased until the African Union recognises NTC as the Libyan government.
South Africa has insisted that releasing money to the NTC would imply recognition of the rebel council as an entity.
Neither South Africa nor the African Union has yet recognised the Libyan opposition administration.
The $1.5 billion is part of the about $30 billion in Libyan assets held in the U.S.. The funds, most of which are in the form of property, investments and other fixed assets, will be sent in three tranches of $500 million each.
The first instalment will go to international humanitarian groups, including $120 million to reimburse U.N. agencies such as the World Food Programme and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees already in Libya.
The second $500 million will pay for salaries and essential services like electricity and desalination and the third tranche will go to an international fund for Libya to pay for fuel and other emergency services.