Impose unconditional truce in Libya: France - GulfToday

Impose unconditional truce in Libya: France

Macron-Fayez

Emmanuel Macron holds talks with Fayez Al Sarraj at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday. Reuters

France on Wednesday called for an unconditional ceasefire in Libya under international supervision after a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al Serraj.

“Noting that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict, and to put an end to the military offensive launched towards Tripoli, the President of the Republic encouraged an unconditional ceasefire,” Macron’s office said in a statement.

“He stressed the need to protect civilian populations. In this context, the proposal was put forward to delimit a ceasefire line, under international supervision.” There was no immediate readout from either side.

An air strike hit a migrant detention centre overnight even as the month-long battle for Tripoli slowed during Ramadan.

France has in the past been supportive of eastern Libyan forces commander Khalifa Haftar, who launched an assault on Serraj’s forces in early April under the banner of combatting terrorism and bringing order.

Overnight, there was shelling on a camp of pro-Serraj fighters, witnesses said. Shrapnel struck the roof of a nearby migrants’ detention centre in the eastern suburb of Tajoura.

Though nobody was wounded at the centre, frightened migrants - rounded up mainly from sub-Saharan African nations and hoping to reach Europe by sea - pleaded for help.

“We have almost lose hope in our life,” one migrant at the centre told Reuters, declining to give his name. “You know Libya for now is not safe. War here is too much. Please, we need help.” The Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) charity said a hole was blown open in a hangar housing women, nearly hitting one infant. “How many more lives must be threatened before these vulnerable people are evacuated out of #Libya?” it tweeted.

A month-old battle for Libya’s capital Tripoli risks causing an “exponential” rise in civilian casualties as well as outbreaks of deadly diseases including cholera, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Both sides are using ever more sophisticated weapons in a conflict straining life-saving hospital supplies near front lines that will last only a few more weeks, Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO representative in Libya, also said in an interview.

So far, 443 people have been killed and 2,110 injured since the assault by Haftar’s forces on the internationally-recognised government, according to WHO. Twenty-three civilians have died, including four health workers.

At least 60,000 people who have fled the fighting in southern outskirts are in makeshift refuges, swelling the city centre’s nearly half a million population, Hussain added.

“The numbers will increase definitely, because the fighting is closing in towards the centre, or the more populated area in Tripoli, where then there is a higher likelihood that more and more civilians will be trapped in the cross-fire and there will be more and more civilian casualties,” he said.

WHO medical teams have performed 200 major surgeries in past weeks.

“For the time being, looking at the number of injured, and the number of those being affected, these supplies can cater for 3 to 4 weeks,” said Hussain, a Pakistani expert deployed by WHO in hotspots from Afghanistan to Iraq for the last 20 years.

“But if there is no ceasefire and there is no reduction in the scale, scope and intensity of the conflict, even if it goes by the current intensity, we will run out of these supplies.” Trauma kits to treat the wounded have been stockpiled in Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha, but medicines for chronic disease patients with diabetes or epilepsy are needed, he said.

Because of the crisis, WHO is seeking an additional $12 million from donors on top of its annual $42 million appeal for Libya. “We appeal to all the donors, that at the moment even if the (casualty/displacement) numbers are not that high, in the coming weeks these numbers will exponentially increase.” With summer coming, those forced out of their homes are susceptible to diarrhoea and diseases due to contaminated water and food, crowding and bad sanitation facilities.

“There is likelihood now of cholera, for example, in these IDP (internally displaced person) dwellings because the water and sanitation is compromised,” he said, also noting risks of hepatitis, typhoid, measles and tuberculosis.

Agencies