UPDATE 1-France sends "massive" aid to Libya's Benghazi-PM

Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:35am GMT

* France sends 2 planes, starts humanitarian operation

* PM links aid to effort to prevent influx of immigrants

* Urges EU action to stem migrant influx

(Adds quotes, Italy, concern on migration)

PARIS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - France will send two planeloads of medical aid to the Libyan city of Benghazi, held by opponents of Muammar Gaddafi, marking the start of a humanitarian operation, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Monday.

Fillon linked the aid mission to a wider effort by the French government to prevent an influx of immigrants from Libya across the Mediterranean, in the wake of an uprising that has shaken but not broken the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

France and Italy have both expressed concern that a collapse of organized government in Libya could lead Libyans and migrant workers there to flee to the southern shores of the European Union.

"In a few hours two airplanes will leave for Benghazi at the request of the French government with doctors, nurses, medical equipment, and it will mark the start of a massive humanitarian aid operation for the people in the liberated territories," Fillon said in an interview on RTL.

Opponents of the Libyan leader have taken control of Benghazi, the country's second city, and leading citizens have set up committees to act as a local authority and run services.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.