The outlook on Libya is gloomy, says United Nations chief António Guterres, warning that “time is not on our side” in the effort to achieve a political solution for a nation divided by nearly a decade of war.
Guterres, speaking to the UN Security Council, said the conflict was in “a new phase with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting.”
The internationally recognized Government of National Accord, led by Fayez Al-Sarraj and backed by Turkey, has made territorial gains since Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army launched an April 2019 campaign on Tripoli that reignited the internal battle between the two.
Haftar’s offensive disrupted a national dialogue meant to lead to elections that the GNA still hopes to hold, but Guterres was not optimistic about Libya’s progress toward them in light of ongoing fighting, the violations of a UN arms embargo, and disregard for the Security Council commitments made at the Berlin International Conference in January.
UNSMIL, the UN mission in Libya, says at least 102 civilians died in the fighting between April 1 and June 30, 2020. That’s up 172 percent over the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, some 30,000 people have been forced to flee the fighting in Tripoli’s southern suburbs and Tarhouna, raising the total of internally displaced persons in Libya to more than 400,000.
The coronavirus pandemic adds to concern over Libya, as does last month’s discovery of mass graves in Tarhouna.
Guterres said the UN will continue to press for a ceasefire and a return to Libya’s political process, and he has spoken with both Sarraj and Haftar in recent days to try and get the negotiations back on track.
Image: United Nations file