Ban voices ‘deep concern’ over eruption of violence in Libya; urges return to dialogue

A destroyed house in Ahy Badr in the town of Mizdah in the Nafusa mountains in Libya after tribal conflict in March 2013. Photo: IRIN/Jorge Vitoria Rubio

A destroyed house in Ahy Badr in the town of Mizdah in the Nafusa mountains in Libya after tribal conflict in March 2013. Photo: IRIN/Jorge Vitoria Rubio

New York, 25 November 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced deep concern over an uptick in violence across Libya and urged all parties to recommit to the values of the revolution that inspired the North African country’s break towards democracy, according to a statement issued today by his spokesperson.

The UN has reported a recent escalation in hostilities in Libya amid air strikes in Tripoli and the Nafusa Mountains in the west as well as in Benghazi and its environs in the country’s east. The outburst of fighting comes just days after a UN-mediated ceasefire brought temporary relief to Benghazi and gave civilians there a much-needed reprieve from violence and an opportunity to evacuate and retrieve the bodies of the dead.

In his statement, Mr. Ban called on “all parties to end these attacks and prevent further escalation” and reminded them of their “moral and legal obligations to protect civilians and abide by international human rights and humanitarian law.”

In addition, the statement noted, the Secretary-General voiced deep concern about the reported violation of the UN’s premises in Tripoli on 24 November, stating that “such actions and incitement cannot be tolerated and must cease immediately.”

Since 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, violence amongst armed groups has spread throughout the North African country causing a humanitarian crisis.

According to numbers provided by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), at least 106,420 people had fled their homes in October alone. Since May, a total of 393,400 people have been displaced.

Earlier in the summer, there seemed to be steps in the right direction with the election on 25 June of a national Parliament, a move the UN Mission hoped would thrust Libya toward political resolution. However earlier this month, Libya’s Supreme Court declared the national Parliament unconstitutional.

Moreover, on 11 November, Fatou Bensouda, a Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned the UN Security Council about growing political instability in Libya. She said that the country is currently split with two governments vying for legitimacy.

Mr. Ban’s statement underscored his “full confidence” in his Special Representative in Libya, Bernardino Leone, and applauded his determination to “facilitate dialogue among Libyans” in an effort to bring about a return to an “inclusive political process.”

“The Secretary-General remains convinced that the only way to resolve the current crisis is through dialogue,” the statement continued. “He calls on all Libyans to recommit themselves to the goals of the revolution and take the brave decisions necessary to spare their country and people further strife and suffering, in particular by talking to one another in an environment of mutual respect and inclusiveness.”