UN humanitarian office: Fighting in Libya’s Derna hit unprecedented levels

TheUnited Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report on Thursday that the escalation of fighting in Derna has reached unprecedented levels, due to the use of air raids and shelling, some of which are in residential areas, and heavy ground clashes.

At least five civilians have died since 22 May, including two children, and 11 have been injured, including four children, as a result of the increased hostilities, OCHA added.

“The humanitarian situation is worsening as severe water, food and medicine shortages continue to exacerbate. Electricity and water are completely cut off for the approximately 125,000 residents.” According to the report.

It added that humanitarian access to Derna is severely limited and no humanitarian supplies are reported as entered since mid-March, except for on 28 May when kidney dialysis materials and medicationwere allowed to reach Derna Hospital.

“There are also increasing concerns about movement restrictions placed on civilians and the protection of civilians.” OCHA indicated.

“The parties to the conflict are reportedly preventing civilians from leaving the city, mostly at checkpoints where there is active fighting, and reports of harassment and violence towards single men at checkpoints have also been made.” The report adds.

According to the UN report, the humanitarian community calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and minimise civilian casualties.

“They need to ensure civilians’ freedom of movement and facilitate the safe exit of those civilians wishing to leave Derna. Immediate safe and unrestricted access to Derna for humanitarian actors and humanitarian goods needs to be granted.” It added.

Derna has been under siege and attacks by the self-styled army of eastern Libyan led by commander Khalifa Haftar since 2016 with a tougher grip and restrictions since last August.

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