UN: Tripoli conflict has killed 1,100 people, no sign of abating

The conflict around the Libyan capital of Tripoli has killed almost 1,100 people, including 106 civilians, since it broke out in early April, a United Nations (UN) envoy has said.

Ghassan Salame, UN secretary-general’s special representative for Libya, on Monday told the Security Council that the fighting shows no signs of abating between the eastern forces known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) and those loyal to the UN-recognised government in the west.

Besides the fatalities, Salame reported that more than 100,000 Libyans are immediately exposed to the frontlines of the hostilities, with over 400,000 more in areas directly impacted by clashes.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in Tripoli and neighboring districts, tens of thousands crossing the border to Tunisia seeking safety for their families, he added.

Moreover, the warring parties have intensified air campaigns, with precision airstrikes by aircraft and armed drones, he noted, while reporting the spread of the geographical scope of the violence and increased recruitment and use of foreign mercenaries.

In particular, he noted “with alarm” the increasing frequency of attacks on Mitiga airport, the only functioning airport in the greater Tripoli area, warning “several of these attacks have come perilously close to hitting civilian aircraft with passengers on board.”

The UN envoy put forward a three-part plan of action to end the conflict — a truce to be declared for Eid al-Adha (an important Islamic festival), a high-level meeting of concerned countries to end the hostilities and implement the Security Council arms embargo, and a meeting of leading and influential personalities from Libya to agree on a way forward.

In early April, the LNA, allied with the eastern-based government, started an offensive on Tripoli, the seat of the administration recognised by the United Nations. The North African nation has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

The instability resulted in a divided country, with the UN-recognised administration overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with LNA. Each is backed by an array of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory. –Xinhua

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