UN Secretary General expresses fear of “full civil war” in Libya

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. [Photo: Internet]
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has said he fears Libya will end up in a “full civil war” unless moves are soon made to end the conflict.

“Unless action is taken in the near term, it is highly likely that the current conflict will escalate into full civil war,” Guterres said on Thursday in his latest report on the UN Support Mission in Libya.

He acknowledged the need for the support of the international community in finding a political solution for the country, where forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in early April.

“I urge all parties to stop using explosive weapons, including by aerial bombardment or shelling, in populated areas because of their likely indiscriminate effects,” the secretary-general said.

Fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli has killed about 1,000 people and displaced more than 100,000 since the start of Haftar’s offensive.

“A political solution to the Libyan conflict requires the full and united support of the international community,” Guterres said.

“I am concerned by the presence of foreign fighters and mercenaries being employed by parties to the conflict in Libya, as well as by the influx of weapons to the country,” he added, calling for strict adherence to an arms embargo in place since 2011.

In his report, Guterres also expressed concern for refugees and migrants in oil-rich Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.

“Refugees and migrants in Libya should be released and provided with safe shelter until their asylum claims can be processed or they can be provided with safe repatriation assistance for reunification with their families,” he said.

Outside of the detention centres, about 50,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, as well as some 800,000 migrants, are currently living elsewhere in the country, UNHCR estimates.

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