The UN Secretary General António Guterres said Wednesday in a virtual briefing of the Security Council that with battle lines shifting, foreign interference growing, thousands fleeing their homes and COVID-19 cases on the rise, time is running out for bringing a peaceful end to the conflict in Libya.
Guterres said the situation in Libya is “gloomy” and urged the international community to seize every opportunity to unblock the political stalemate.
Guterres explained that “time is not on our side in Libya,” adding that the conflict has entered 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.
He indicated that the UN is very concerned by an alarming military build-up around Sirte, as well as “a high level of direct foreign interference” in violation of a UN arms embargo, Security Council resolutions and commitments made at the Berlin International Conference on Libya six months ago.
“Almost 30,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to continuing fighting in Tripoli’s southern suburbs, due to siege by (Haftar’s forces) for more than a year ago, and in Tarhouna, which bring the total number of internally displaced persons in Libya to more than 400,000.” Guterres said.
Guterres added that the UN would keep working with the parties to reach a ceasefire and resume a political process to end a crisis of warring factions, and economic collapse, despite the country’s large oil reserves.
The UN Secretary General said that the UN stands ready to help Libya secure and investigate mass graves discovered when GNA forces retook control of Tarhouna, a former stronghold for Haftar’s forces – about 100 km south-east of Tripoli.