Recent Libya clashes have displaced over 18,000: UN - GulfToday

Recent Libya clashes have displaced over 18,000: UN

Libyan-displaced

A displaced Libyan family sits at the industrial complex which is being used as a shelter in Tripoli on Tuesday. Reuters

Recent clashes between rival Libyan militias for control of the capital Tripoli have displaced more than 18,000 people, the UN said, and prompted the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to warn on Tuesday that she could investigate and possibly prosecute new offences.

The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), aligned with a rival government in the east, launched a major military offensive on April 5 to take Tripoli, igniting clashes with rival militias allied with the UN-backed government.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who was already investigating crimes in Libya, said in a statement that she is “deeply concerned” about the escalation of violence and called on military commanders to prevent war crimes.

She said she “will not hesitate to expand my investigations and potential prosecutions to cover any new instances of crimes falling within the Court’s jurisdiction.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York on Monday that the International Organisation for Migration reported that 13 civilians were among the 146 killed so far in the clashes that have wounded 614 people including 35 civilians.

He said the number of civilian causalities “reflect only those cases that could be individually verified and should be considered a minimum.”

Dujarric also said around 3,000 migrants remain trapped in detention centers in, and close to, conflict areas. And “in some cases guards have abandoned the detention centers leaving detainees to their own devices without basic life-sustaining supplies such as food or water,” he said.

Meanwhile, Britain has presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya after forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli, according to the text obtained by media on Tuesday.

The proposed measure said the offensive by Haftar’s LNA “threatens the stability of Libya and prospects for a United Nations-facilitated political dialogue and a comprehensive political solution to the crisis.”

The council “demands that all parties in Libya immediately de-escalate the situation, commit to a ceasefire, and engage with the United Nations to ensure a full and comprehensive cessation of hostilities throughout Libya,” the draft says.

Britain circulated the text late Monday and a first round of negotiations is to be held later Tuesday, diplomats said.

Britain hopes to bring the measure to a vote at the council before Friday, but diplomats said it remained unclear whether negotiations on the measure would wrap up that quickly.

Resolutions adopted by the council are legally binding.

The proposed measure echoed a call for a ceasefire by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was in Libya to personally advance prospects for a political solution when the offensive was launched.

In separate development Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) appealed on Tuesday for Europe’s support against Haftar, who is waging an offensive on Tripoli, warning continued violence could see 800,000 people try to flee to the West.

“It interests the whole of Europe to see a peaceful and democratic Libya,” GNA vice president Ahmad Maitig told the foreign media press association in Rome.

He said Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini “shows big support for the peace process” and brushed off reports France favoured Haftar, saying “the position of the French government is to support the national accord government”.

But he repeated warnings that the offensive by Haftar’s forces could spark an exodus of displaced Libyans and migrants.

Some “800,000 people can easily reach Europe,” he said, adding that Islamic State group fighters currently held as prisoners could be among them.

There were “more than 400 Daesh prisoners” in Libya whose whereabouts could not be secured should Haftar push on to take the capital, he said.

“These prisoners are terrorists and we were working with the international community to keep them and hold them. At the same time we see some international partners, our international team players, supporting the attack and supporting Haftar.

“This is something not understandable for the GNA,” he said.

Agence France-Presse