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UN calls for Libya ceasefire as death toll climbs to 1,000

July 6, 2019
 

Plumes of smoke rise from the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura after it was hit by an air strike launched by forces loyal to Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar. Photo: AFP

The UN Security Council called Friday for a ceasefire in Libya as the death toll from a three-month offensive on Tripoli reached 1,000, including scores killed in an air strike that hit a detention centre for migrants.

The council condemned the late Tuesday attack on the Tajoura detention camp east of Tripoli and “stressed the need for all parties to urgently de-escalate the situation and to commit to a ceasefire”, said a joint statement.

Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces hold eastern Libya and much of the country’s south, launched an offensive in early April to wrestle the capital from forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Air strikes and ground fighting have since left nearly 1,000 people dead and some 5,000 wounded, the UN’s World Health Organization said.

The fighting has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes and threatens to plunge Libya into deeper conflict.

Map: AFP

Among the dead are 53 migrants killed Tuesday night in an air raid on a detention centre in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura, held by the GNA, which accused Haftar’s forces of carrying out the strike.

A Geneva-based spokesman for the International Organization for Migration said six children were among the migrants killed.

Joel Millman said that 350 migrants, including 20 women and four children, were still detained at the centre, one of five air hangars hit in the raid.

World powers have been divided over how to respond to Haftar’s offensive, with the United States and Russia refusing to condemn the Libyan strongman.

The British-drafted council statement condemned the attack on the migrant camp, called for a return to political talks and for full respect of the arms embargo on Libya.

Emergency workers recover bodies in the wreckage of an air strike that killed 53 migrants held at a detention centre in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura. Photo: AFP

It followed a closed-door council meeting on Wednesday during which US diplomats said they needed more time to consult with Washington on the proposed text.

The United Nations has called for an independent investigation to determine who was responsible for the strike on the centre, which housed some 600 migrants, mainly from African countries.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — which backs the GNA — called for an end to “unlawful attacks” by Haftar’s forces during a meeting with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Istanbul on Friday, the Turkish presidency said.

– UN shared coordinates –

UN agencies and humanitarian groups have repeatedly voiced concern over the plight of thousands of migrants and refugees held in detention centres near combat zones in the capital.

The carnage at the Tajoura migrant detention centre was ‘a tragedy that should have never happened’, a spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency said. Photo: AFP

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed outrage over the attack and said the United Nations had shared the coordinates of the detention centre with the warring sides to protect the civilians.

The carnage in Tajoura was “a tragedy that should have never happened”, said Charlie Yaxley, spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency.

Libya has become a major conduit for migrants seeking to reach Europe and remains prey to numerous militias vying for control of the country’s oil wealth.

Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, and their plight has worsened since Haftar launched the offensive against Tripoli.

According to the UN, some 5,700 refugees and migrants are being held in detention centres in Libya, 3,300 of whom are vulnerable to fighting in and around Tripoli.

 
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One Comment

  1. Avatar
    khan   July 6, 2019 4:31 pm/ Reply

    Instead of telling Libya for killings,This STUPID so called UN must tell USA and Israeli to stop killing.These two are the CULPRIT for creating troubles EVERY WHERE,has the UN have no power to say anything,OR does the UN is run by these STUPID Amercians.

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