At least 264 dead in Libya battle: WHO - GulfToday

At least 264 dead in Libya battle: WHO

Tripoli-beach

Children gather on the beach near the main port of Tripoli on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

At least 264 people have been killed and 1,266 wounded, including civilians, in an offensive by military strongman Khalifa Haftar to seize Libya’s capital Tripoli, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The UN agency called on Twitter for “a temporary cessation of hostilities” between Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) and forces loyal to the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

It urged “all parties to respect international humanitarian law.”

Fighting since April 4 in the southern suburbs of Tripoli has displaced 35,000, UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya Maria do Valle Ribeiro said on Monday.

“Displacement is continuing at an increasing rate every day”, she added.

She warned that the numbers were “a minimal estimate of the impact” of the clashes.

“There needs to be pressure put on everybody to respect civilians. Any country who has leverage should be using that leverage to ensure that civilians can be protected and be least affected by the clashes,” she said.

Meanwhile, despite the war on Tripoli’s doorstep, residents are filling the salons and cafes in some quarters of the Libyan capital as they carry on as best they can.

“Life has to go on. It will end when it ends,” said Samira, who runs a hair and beauty salon in Tripoli’s central Ben Achour neighbourhood.

Originally from neighbouring Tunisia, Samira has been living in Libya for years and her salon is always packed with clients.

“At least three or four brides come in each week to have their hair done and get ready for their big day,” she said, as she prepared a palette of eyeshadows and brushes to start making up a young bride. “That’s as well as dozens of women who come for a haircut, to get a makeover, or skincare before a big event,” she added.

Tension has been high in Tripoli since military chief Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on April 4, aimed at seizing the capital from the UN-backed unity government based there.

Clashes have centred on the southern outskirts of the city, just 15 kilometres from the centre.

Fighting intensified with a counter-attack launched by GNA force on Saturday, when sustained rocket and shellfire could be heard in several districts and some witnesses reported air strikes.

Agencies

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