Human Rights Watch: Haftar-led forces prevent Benghazi IDPs from return

Human Rights Watch (Photo: Internet)

Armed groups in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi are preventing thousands of internally displaced families from returning to their homes in that city, Human Rights Watch reported on Thursday.

HRW explained that the armed groups, some loyal to “Libyan National Army forces (LNA)” [Operation Dignity forces led by Khalifa Haftar], accuse the families broadly of “terrorism” or “supporting terrorism.”

It also indicated that since May 2014, when Haftar announced the start of Operation Dignity to root out “terrorists” from Benghazi, an estimated 13,000 families have fled Benghazi for elsewhere in Libya or abroad.

“Displaced people interviewed by Human Rights Watch said LNA-linked groups have seized their property and tortured, forcibly disappeared, and arrested family members who remained in the city. If proven such attacks on civilians would amount to violations of the laws of war. If committed with criminal intent, they would be war crimes.” A report by HRW explained on its website.

“Haftar needs to act resolutely to end the attacks on civilians in Benghazi,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Senior LNA commanders who have stood by since 2014 while their forces torture and disappear people and plunder their property can and should be held to account by local or international courts.” He added.

HRW explained as well that the armed groups in Benghazi are preventing at least 3,700 families from returning to the city, according to the Benghazi Committee, a body based in Tripoli that coordinates relief support to displaced people from eastern Libya.

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