UN envoy underscores 'untenable' situation in Libya

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 6, 2018
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The head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame said Wednesday that the status quo in Libya is "untenable" in his first briefing to the Security Council after the latest round of violence in late August.

Salame, also the UN secretary-general's special representative for Libya, pointed to the violence in the capital of Tripoli that began on Aug. 26 as shattering "the facade of calm that had prevailed since May 2017," noting tanks and heavy artillery were deployed into residential neighborhoods, leaving 61 Libyans dead and injuring 159 others.

"Looting and crime became common place as gangs took to the streets. Hundreds of criminals broke out of prison. Migrants were either trapped in detention centres, or turned onto the street," he said.

When the city "stood on the brink of all-out war," he said, UNSMIL brokered a ceasefire between the major parties to the conflict, which halted the fighting and restored some order, adding the mission is offering technical assistance and its good offices in support of the ceasefire.

He also expressed fear that Libya "may become a shelter for terrorist groups of all persuasions," including the Islamic State, and asked the council for more help to address the threat.

Moreover, the envoy highlighted fighting between Chadian government and opposition forces operating from southern Libya, underscoring that "the recent Agreement signed between Chad, Sudan, Niger and Libya needs to be implemented, so Libya does not also become an alternative battleground for others."

Meanwhile, Salame pointed to the deteriorating standards of living of the Libyans, saying and for many, "every day is a personal emergency."

In tackling the underlying causes, he stressed the need for strong, unified civilian and military institutions, explaining UNSMIL's dual track approach.

First, he said the mission is working to revise the security arrangements in Tripoli to reduce armed groups and work with Libyans to identify steps towards reshaping security in the capital and develop sustainable arrangements.

"The mission's second priority is to address the economic issues, which underpin the crisis and erode the daily lives of citizens across the country," he informed the council, noting that if the plundering continues, there is little chance to move either the economic reforms or political process.

"We are also committed to advocating for a more equitable distribution of wealth in Libya focused not on appeasing groups based on their military strength, but on providing for citizens based on their need," said Salame.

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