Human Rights Watch demands Haftar’s forces end siege of civilians in Libya’s Derna

Derna has been under siege and recurrent fighting since 2016. [Photo: Archive]
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on forces loyal to Libya’s east-based Interim Government and led by Khalifa Haftar to allow aid and medical workers into the Old City neighborhood of Derna.

HRW added on its Friday report that it had cited credible reports of civilians being “trapped in Derna within the past two weeks without access to food, water, or medical care.”

The commander of the self-styled army Khalifa Hiftar has been fighting a local armed group “Derna Protection Force” since May 2018 in the coastal city of more than 100,000 residents.

According to the report, Haftar’s forces have detained Derna residents at their homes, and at checkpoints and other public places.

“The attacking forces have also deliberately damaged homes, including by arson, or turned them over to their supporters in the city after their owners had fled,” the report added, quoting sources and UN reporting that cites claims by people who fled Derna.

HRW further called for Haftar’s forces to permit all citizens trapped in Derna to be allowed to flee.

“It is estimated that hundreds of people have been taken into custody during the conflict and HRW seeks to have the forces make public the location of all detainees and the legal basis for their detention to ensure due process before a judge.” The report indicates.

According to UN investigators, “approximately 1,000-2,000 families have been displaced either to neighbourhoods inside Derna or to other Mantikas (Regions) in Libya.”

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