United Nations experts said foreign fighters, mercenaries and large amounts of arms remain in Libya, posing a threat to its stability as it is headed toward elections next month.
The experts said in a confidential report, cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP) that fewer violations of the arms embargo on Libya have occurred this year as compared with 2020, but the “continuing presence” of foreign fighters is “still a serious threat.”
“While the intense pace of delivery of banned weapons has abated, the arms embargo remains totally ineffective,” the experts tasked with monitoring the embargo said in an interim confidential report recently given to the Security Council.
For the report, which covers January to November 2021, the experts traveled twice to Libya in April and again in September.
The experts, who said they also traveled to France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Tunisia to complete their work, noted that armed groups were still in control of the majority of Libya.
“Based on the 2020 transfers, arms stockpiles remain high and sufficient to sustain any future conflict,” the experts said, adding that the control of the supply chains by some member states continues, thus significantly hindering detection, disruption or interdiction” of arms deliveries.
Although the opposing sides in Libya have asked foreign fighters to leave the country, the experts say they are “maintaining foreign fighters among their forces, including nationals from Chad, Sudan and Syria as well as from Russian private military companies.”
The UN has previously estimated that 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters are deployed in Libya, including those from the Russian private security firm Wagner. Experts explained that the panel has no evidence of any large-scale withdrawals taking place to date.