UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame warned that Libya is on the verge of a long-lasting and bloody civil war that could divide the country and imperil the security of its neighbors and the wider Mediterranean region.
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“The consequences and the risks of the conflict are already painfully clear, especially for the Libyan people: over 460 dead, 29 of them civilians. Over 2400 injured, the majority of them civilians. Over 75,000 people forced from their homes, all of them civilians. Over half of the displaced are women and children,” he added.
“While the conditions for migrants and refugees in Libya were already dire prior to the conflict, these conditions have now gone from bad to worse. Nearly 3,400 refugees and migrants are trapped in detention centers exposed to, or in close proximity to, the fighting,” Salame continued.
“The attack on Tripoli also imperiled the potential of the talks which had been held on 27 February in Abu Dhabi between Prime Minister Serraj and General Haftar, the sixth of its kind between them. At those talks, there had been the real opportunity to replace the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, dissolve the parallel government in Beida and create an inclusive, unified the national government, which would have shepherded the country through the election process to the end of the Transitional Period.
“The understandings reached in Abu Dhabi had placed the military under civilian control, a key demand of the vast majority of Libyans and many in the international community.
“The violence on the outskirts of Tripoli is just the start of a long and bloody war on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, imperiling the security of Libya’s immediate neighbors and the wider Mediterranean region. The security vacuum created by the withdrawal of many of General Haftar’s troops from the south, coupled with the focus of the western forces on the defense of the capital, is already being exploited by ISIS and Al-Qaeda,” he noted.
Furthermore, Salame urged all parties to hand over those sought by the ICC, saying:
“There are numerous reports of extremists, persons under international sanctions, and individuals wanted by the International Criminal Court appearing on the battlefield on all sides. All parties must publicly disassociate themselves from such elements without delay and refer to the ICC those for whom arrest warrants have been issued. I recommend that the Council support the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to determine who have taken up arms and support the establishment of mechanisms to ensure the exclusion of unwanted elements.”
To conclude, Salame said: “Without a robust enforcement mechanism, the arms embargo into Libya will become a cynical joke. Some nations are fueling this bloody conflict; the United Nations should put an end to it.”
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