Libya Has “lurched from one emergency to another,” Ghassan Salamé Tells Security Council

The UN Special Representative for Libya Ghassan Salamé
pointed to the violence in the capital, Tripoli, that began on August 26 as shattering “the façade of calm that had prevailed since May 2017,” relaying that tanks and heavy artillery were deployed into residential neighborhoods, leaving 61 Libyans dead and injuring nearly 160.

“Many of those who died were civilians, including children. Families were forced to flee their homes. Looting and crime became common place as gangs took to the streets. Hundreds of criminals broke out of prison. Migrants were either trapped in detention centers, or turned onto the street,” he detailed in a briefing to the UN Security Council Wednesday.

Against the backdrop that the city was “on the brink of all-out war,” he said that on September 4, UNSMIL brokered a ceasefire between the major parties to the conflict, halting the fighting and restoring some order.

Salamé said that as a first step for peace to take root, the Mission was offering technical assistance and its good offices in support of the ceasefire.

“Groups that violate the ceasefire must be held to account,” he insisted, adding that “the time for impunity is behind us.”

He noted that in recent weeks, “the nation has lurched from one emergency to another.” Fearing that it “may become a shelter for terrorist groups of all persuasions,” he asked the Council for more help at this critical juncture.

Alerting the Council that the presence and operations of the terrorist group ISIL are spreading, he said the terror group claimed two attacks in August and an attack on the High National Elections Commission on May 2.

The Special Representative also highlighted fighting between Chadian Government and opposition forces operating from Southern Libya, underscoring that “the recent Agreement signed between Chad, Sudan, Niger and Libya needs to be implemented, so Libya does not also become an alternative battleground for others.”

Meanwhile, he continued, the country’s citizens suffer “deteriorating standards of living,” and for many, “every day is a personal emergency.”

In this vein, he called for a more equitable distribution of wealth in Libya focused “not on appeasing groups based on their military strength, but on providing for citizens based on their need”.

He maintained that Libyans want change in their political leadership: “I will not mince words. Many members of the House of Representatives are failing to do their job,” he stated. “They simply have no intention of relinquishing their positions. They have put in place legal provisions to maintain their authority in perpetuity.”

He said that Libya needs the “unified, determined and vocal position” of the Council, to find the peace and tranquility it is desperately looking for.

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