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

2019-07-06 12:44
Fighters loyal to the Libyan internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) gesture near the frontline during clashes against forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

Fighters loyal to the Libyan internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) gesture near the frontline during clashes against forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The UN Security Council called on 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 on 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 Organisation said.

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

Among the dead are 53 migrants killed on 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 spokesperson for the International Organisation 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.

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.

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, spokesperson 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.

Plane downed

An initial lightning assault in early April saw Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army steam towards the capital. But they have since been bogged down on its southern outskirts, where frontlines have been frozen for months.

GNA forces launched a surprise counter-attack late last month, seizing the strategic town of Gharyan, the main supply base for Haftar's offensive.

After the setback, Haftar's forces threatened to intensify strikes against their rivals.

Both sides have launched daily air raids throughout the fighting and each lost several planes.

The rival camps have remained convinced that with the help of their backers, they can win the battle.

The GNA receives support from Turkey and Qatar, and Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and according to experts, to some degree by the United States.

Read more on:    un  |  libya  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.