UNSMIL Human Rights Report on Libya: Sharp Rise in Civilian Death

A Libyan flag flies at the entrance of Sirte, Libya October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Hani Amara
Libya October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Hani Amara

From 1 October to 31 October 2016, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) documented 102 civilian casualties, including 29 deaths and 73 injured, during the conduct of hostilities across Libya. Victims included 7 children killed and 13 injured, 3 women killed and 6 injured, 19 men killed and 33 injured and 21 persons injured whose age and sex was unknown.

Civilian Casualties

The majority of civilian deaths were caused by shelling (9 deaths and 30 injured) and airstrikes (8 deaths and 22 injured), while the next leading cause of death was gun shots (3 deaths), then an unidentified explosion (4 deaths, 18 injured) and explosive remnants of war (1 injured). In the case of 5 deaths and 2 injured, the cause was not able to be verified.

UNSMIL documented 19 deaths and 64 injured in Benghazi, 5 deaths and 2 injured in Zawiya, 2 deaths and 6 injured in Tripoli, 1 death and 1 injured in Derna, 1 death in Sirte, and 1 death in Surman.

The civilian casualties included 2 women and 5 children killed from airstrikes in Qanfouda, a neighbourhood of Benghazi where civilians are trapped because of fighting between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC). Casualties also included the injury of 5 boys from shelling in a playground in Benghazi, a Dutch journalist killed by a sniper in Sirte, a woman killed and 6 injured in a Tawergha internally displaced persons camp and 4 civilians killed and 18 injured from an explosion in al-Kish square in Benghazi. One of the civilians was Muhammad Bugaighis, an anti-corruption activist. Civilians were also caught in the fighting in Zawiya. Due to the ongoing intense hostilities the number of casualties recorded for the month of October (5 dead and 2 injured), is likely to increase as information will be confirmed.

While no one claimed responsibility for the air strikes, information received indicated that the LNA or their allies carried out the airstrikes that caused civilian casualties in Qanfouda and Derna. On 17 October, the BRSC issued a statement in which it warned those that conducted airstrikes on Qanfouda that they would be rightful targets. The statement was issued shortly after the shelling that caused civilian casualties in Benina (5 boys injured) and the same day as civilian casualties were caused in Syria Street, Benghazi (1 child killed, 1 child and 1 adult injured). UNSMIL has been unable to determine whether the BRSC were responsible for these attacks and which other parties caused civilian casualties in October.

Civilian Facilities

On 15 October, airstrikes hit the electricity plant in Derna. The hospital in Zawiya was unable to operate from 28 October, since it was in the direct vicinity of hostilities.

Other Casualties

On 27 October, 10 bodies were found with their hands tied and gunshot wounds in a rubbish dump in the Sheibna neighbourhood of Benghazi, which is under the control of the LNA. This follows another similar incident, in July 2016, in which 14 bodies were found with signs of torture and gunshots in the al-Leithi neighbourhood of Benghazi.

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