Libyan regime stands firm as shortages begin to bite

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Shortages of food and medicine will become critical in Libya within a few weeks, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in the country said yesterday. Severe fuel shortages are also reported with motorists lining up for days.

Panos Moumtzis, who co-ordinates UN relief efforts for the conflict, told Reuters: "The longer the conflict lasts, the more the food stocks supplies are going to be depleted, and it's a matter of weeks before the country reaches a critical situation."

As Nato prepared to step up its campaign against the regime, Muammar Gaddafi was emphatic he will not leave Libya, the South African President Jacob Zuma said yesterday after talks with the Libyan leader. Within hours of Mr Zuma's departure from Tripoli, Libyan television reported that Nato aircraft had resumed attacks, striking what it called civilian and military sites.

President Zuma was in Tripoli to try to revive an African "roadmap" for ending the conflict. The talks produced no breakthrough, with Gaddafi's refusal to quit – which the rebels and Nato have set as a pre-condition for any ceasefire – still the sticking point.