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Friday, January 27, 2023

16,000 Libyans displaced in recent battles: UN

An alarming statistic highlighted by the United Nations is that more than 16,000 Libyans have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in Libya. In addition, the discovery of mass corpses at hospitals has also caused the UN to raise the alarm. While the rich and powerful play their games, the people of Libya suffer.

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More than 16,000 Libyans have been displaced during recent battles that saw forces of the UN-recognised government wrest back control of western Libya from strongman Khalifa Haftar, the UN said Sunday. This adds insult upon injury of the people of Libya, who were once citizens of a wealthy and rapidly developing country but are now reduced to mere pawns in the power struggle between two major powers.

The UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement it was “alarmed by the harm inflicted on the civilian population by the continuing cycle of violence in Libya”.

16,000 Libyans displaced amid fighting between Haftar and GNA

“The recent military movements in Greater Tripoli and Tarhuna have led to new waves of displacement and suffering of over 16,000 Libyans in the past few days,” it said.

Read more: NATO vs Russia: Who will win Libya?

Backed by Turkey, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli has in recent weeks retaken all remaining outposts of western Libya from pro-Haftar loyalists.

The town of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli, was the latest pro-Haftar stronghold to be captured by GNA forces.

UN asks GNA to investigate mass corpses at hospitals

Haftar, whose stronghold is in the east of the country where a parliament is based, launched an offensive in April last year to capture Tripoli from the GNA.

Hundreds have been killed and around 200,000 more driven from their homes in the offensive, not counting the 16,000 displaced in recent days.

UNSMIL also flagged “reports of the discovery of a number of corpses at the hospital in Tarhuna”, which it described as “deeply disturbing”.

It urged the GNA to carry out a “prompt and impartial investigation” into these deaths.

UNSMIL also said it had received many reports of “the looting and destruction of public and private property” in Tarhuna and the town of Al-Assabaa, also south of Tripoli.

In some cases, it said, vandalism appears to be “acts of retribution and revenge that risk further fraying Libya’s social fabric”.

Read more: Libyan general Khalifa Haftar received arms from Iran: Israel

The security situation was reportedly fragile Sunday in Tarhuna, two days after it fell to GNA forces.

The GNA interior ministry meanwhile called on military and security forces in “liberated areas” to protect civilian lives and their property, vowing to hold transgressors to account, whatever their rank.

Who has stakes in Libya?

Two governments are vying for control of Libya. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, is recognized by the United Nations and backed by a host of militias. The rival administration in the country’s east is allied with warlord General Khalifa Haftar, who commands the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA).

Haftar, a onetime Gaddafi ally, presents himself as a bulwark against extremists, while opponents see in him a would-be dictator. The GNA, meanwhile, has struggled to assert its authority and is plagued by infighting. Both sides enjoy the support of foreign powers.

About the civil war in Libya: Khalifa Haftar, UAE, Turkey etc

Oil-rich Libya has been in chaos since the Arab spring movement and Nato bombing campaign that toppled Gaddafi in 2011. Attempts to build a democratic state after Gaddafi fell disintegrated into a new civil war between rival governments in 2014.

Since 2014 the fighting has mainly been between rival centres of political power in east and west Libya: the Tripoli administration, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Sarraj, and the Tobruk administration, which decamped to the eastern city after disputed elections. The Tobruk government appointed Haftar to lead the Libyan National Army (LNA) and restore its sovereignty.

While the GNA is officially recognised by the UN as Libya’s legitimate government, and is backed by Turkey, it holds little power on the ground, and some distrust its politics. Haftar’s supporters say he is a bulwark against extremism, while others see him as another would-be military dictator.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk