• Wednesday, Apr 08, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:13 pm

Libya leaders slam international inaction amid surging violence

  • Published at 09:09 pm February 24th, 2020
General view of the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2020 Reuters

The fighting has claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced some 140,000, according to the United Nations

The head of Libya's UN-recognised government slammed his rival Khalifa Haftar before the UN on Monday as a "war criminal", and decried international inaction over hostilities raging on the ground.

"The entire world has been able to see the escalation in hostilities and attacks against the capital Tripoli since April 4, 2019," Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

But despite large numbers of people killed and displaced by the actions of "the war criminal Mr. Haftar", Sarraj lamented: "Until today, we have not seen action by the international community."

The fighting has claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced some 140,000, according to the United Nations.

In the latest outbreak of fighting, Haftar launched his offensive on Tripoli last April but after rapid advances his forces stalled on the outskirts of the capital.

"We have repeatedly asked that commissions of inquiry be established to investigate the violations, the forced displacements, the arbitrary detentions, the extrajudicial killings," Sarraj said.

GNA foreign minister Mohamed Taha Syala meanwhile voiced particular criticism about international inaction to force an end to Haftar's oil blockade, warning of the dire humanitarian consequences of cutting off the country's main source of income.

The international community, he said, must "instruct opening the oil fields and opening the ports to feed the Libyan people."

He told reporters in Geneva that major powers had acted quickly to force an end to a previous attempt by Haftar to blockade Libya's oil, but that today there seemed to be less interest in boosting oil supplies on the global market.

"I know they don't want the prices in the market to drop by putting in the market around one million barrels," he said, suggesting that "maybe this is behind the reason" for the international inaction.

"If it is the reason, this is inhuman," he said.

The GNA leaders' comments came as the UN announced that indirect negotiations between military leaders from Libya's warring sides had agreed on a draft ceasefire deal, which will now be discussed by the leadership on both sides.

Political negotiations are meanwhile scheduled to kick off in Geneva on Wednesday.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame, who was scheduled to meet with Sarraj later on Monday, has said the political discussions would go ahead despite the hostilities on the ground.

But Syala said that the GNA had yet to receive an invitation to attend and that it remained to be seen whether the talks would go ahead as planned.