The UN expresses its “grave concern” over the deterioration of the situation in Libya and asks for protection for civilians

Combatiente leal al gobierno de unidad en Libia

Fighter loyal to the unity government in Libya – Amru Salahuddien / dpa – Archive

At least 284 civilians have died in 2019 in a climate of impunity, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed his “grave concern” about the impact of violence in populated areas of Libya and has urged all parties to respect citizens outside the conflict, given that this year At least 284 civilians have already lost their lives and another 363 have been injured.

The UN expresses its “grave concern” over the deterioration of the situation in Libya and asks for protection for civilians
The UN expresses its “grave concern” over the deterioration of the situation in Libya and asks for protection for civilians

The balance of victims, prepared by the High Commissioner in collaboration with the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL), shows the deterioration of the situation in a country that lives in chaos since the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011. The offensive launched on Tripoli by forces loyal to the Eastern Government has exacerbated tensions.

The report has identified airstrikes as the main cause of civilian casualties, with 182 dead and 212 injured, ahead of clashes on land, the explosion of homemade bombs, kidnappings and extrajudicial executions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also detected since the beginning of the year 61 attacks against medical facilities and personnel, an increase of 69 percent compared to 2018.

“We have a serious concern about the impact of the conflict in densely populated areas such as Abu Salim and Al Hadba, where some 100,000 more civilians could become displaced, adding to the 343,000 that already are,” the High Commissioner warned in a statement, in which he has also denounced violence and threats against journalists and activists.

All this, according to the organization, in a “continuous climate of impunity”, as would have been shown on December 15 with the acquittal of all former leaders tried for the massacre of 1,200 people in a prison in Tripoli in 1996. Among those prosecuted there was the former head of the intelligence services Abdulá al Senussi.

“The Abu Salim massacre was one of the grievances that led to the 2011 uprising in Libya. We reiterate the request we made in September to create a mechanism to investigate serious crimes committed in Libya,” said the Human Rights Office of United Nations.

The concerns of the High Commissioner also include the treatment given in Libya to migrants and refugees, “routinely subject to rape and abuse”, including “extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, kidnapping in exchange for bailouts, extortion and forced labor “, both by the authorities and by the mafias that traffic with them.

Libya is one of the main exit points for those who want to arrive irregularly to the shores of southern Europe. Between January and November, more than 8,600 migrants and refugees were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned to the North African country, to which international organizations still do not consider a “safe harbor” for landings.

Most of these returned people end up in detention centers, at the mercy of all types of Human Rights violations and without guarantees of any kind, the UN High Commissioner lamented in his assessment.

Moreover, this body estimates that more than 8,800 people are being held in one of the 28 official prisons under the command of the Ministry of Justice – 60 percent awaiting trial. These centers are also the scene of abuse and the situation could be “even worse” in the “unofficial” facilities, mostly managed by armed groups.

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