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454 Libyans Killed, 2,154 Injured in the Tripoli Armed Conflict, Europe Calls for Ceasfire But Not Taking Sides

May 14, 2019

Mogherini and Serraj: EU is united in its policy towards Libya Hafter's air strikes on Tripoli, May 9, 2019


Libya's HoR condemns airstrikes on Tripoli

Libya Observer, May 09, 2019 - 17:58

Written By: AbdulkaderAssad

The members of the House of Representatives (HoR) condemned on Thursday the airstrikes on security and services locations in Janzour, western Tripoli, in addition to the airstrikes on Dawa Al-Islamiya Commission HQs and the targeting of an ambulance in Wadi Rabea.

The HoR denounced, in a statement, the silence of the international community - especially the UN - toward the crimes and violations committed by Khalifa Haftar and his "outlaw and terrorist forces."

They also added that they are following closely the deterioration of human rights conditions due to violations made by Haftar's forces against Tripoli residents.

Meanwhile, a warplane from Haftar's Air Force hit Wednesday night security locations in Janzour, few kilometers away from the headquarters of the UNSMIL.

Haftar's forces shelled also Wadi Rabea hitting an ambulance driven by the Head of Emergency and Ambulance Apparatus Nasser Daw, who was trying to evacuate trapped families. Daw's legs were amputated due to the injury.

Haftar's forces have targeted residential areas, detention centers of migrants and ambulances as well as government institutions and electricity stations in many frontlines in southern Tripoli and in Tajoura in eastern Tripoli.

EU claims it has a united policy on Libya

By Sami Zaptia.

 Libya Herald, London, 14 May 2019:

Speaking yesterday at the end of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels and after having met with Faiez Serraj head of Libya’s internationally recognized government, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said the EU is united in its foreign policy on Libya.

Mogherini reiterated the position set out in the EU Council statement which is a catch-all statement supporting Serraj, UNSMIL’s Salame and his efforts, condemning terrorists and violations of International Human Rights, calling for a ceasefire – but not condemning Khalifa Hafter’s attack on Tripoli.

From Serraj’s point of view, the statement had the hallmarks of French intervention all over it. It failed to call on Hafter to return his forces to their point of origin and equated Hafter with Serraj, which Serraj had requested the international community not to do.

Here are Mogherini’s full remarks:

Is the Council talking with one voice on Libya?

We spent most of the Council today in presence of the UN Secretary General Special Representative [in Libya] Ghassan Salamé that we want to thank not only for his presence with us today and for the constant coordination he has always kept with us, but also with others in the region – from the League of Arab States to the African Union. He has always been available to all of us. But most of all, we want to thank him]for the impressive work that he and his team are still doing in Tripoli with the right approach [according] to us.

Today, yes, the European Union speaks with one voice on Libya. If you see divisions among and inside regional organisations, there are none inside the European Union today. There might be some inside other regional organisations around Libya. The European Union is clearly stating today that, first of all the LNA [Libyan National Army] military attack on Tripoli and the subsequent escalation in and around the capital constitutes a very serious threat to international peace and security, and that it opens the way for terrorist activities to pose more threats to the international community and obviously to the Libyan people.

Second, a united message that the European Union and its Member States passed is that the parties immediately implement a ceasefire and to engage with the United Nations to ensure a full and comprehensive cessation of hostilities.

Third, recalling that there is no military solution for the crisis in Libya but there is a solution to the crisis in Libya, that goes through recommitment to the UN facilitated political dialogue. We call on all parties to re-engage on the political dialogue that was in place before the attack on Tripoli started a few weeks ago.

The last message I want to pass is a united message of all the Member States: our full and determined support to the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General [in Libya, Ghassan Salamé] in these weeks.

I have not detected any signs of divisions between and among the Members States of the European Union on Libya today, as well as in the last weeks. Now and today, the European Union is very much united behind the efforts that the United Nations are trying to put in place to re-open the space for a political process.

I have also discussed it this morning with Prime Minister [of the Government of National Accord, Fayez el-] Sarraj that visited Brussels today. I conveyed the same messages to him.

If there is one interlocutor, one global player on which the United Nations and the Libyan people can count today, it is the European Union.

Tripoli fighting continues as Serraj diplomatic tour reaches Brussels

By Sami Zaptia.

Libya Herald, London, 10 May 2019:

Faiez Serraj, head of Libya’s internationally recognized Presidency Council and Government of National Accord continued his European tour today in his efforts to end the Tripoli fighting started by Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Hafter on 4 April.

Khalifa Hafter, meanwhile visited Egypt’s president Sissi in Cairo.

After visiting Rome, Berlin, Paris and London last week, Serraj arrived in Brussels today where he met both Federica Mogherini, High Representative of EU Foreign Policy and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. The visit by Serraj comes ahead of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting today.

At the meeting, the Serraj government reported that Mogherini had reiterated the European Union’s support for the internationally-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord, stressing that there was no military solution to the Libyan crisis, and the need to stop the attack on Tripoli and a return to the political track in accordance with Ghasan Salame’s UNSMIL plan.

For his part, Serraj expressed his aspiration for a common European position which describes things as they really are, and which contributes practically to the saving of Libyan blood. He said that every day that passes increases the numbers of Libyan victims and expands the war which will not only affect Libya but the entire region.

Without naming Egypt, UAE or Saudi Arabia, which are widely perceived by a large swathe of the Libyan public to be supporting Hafter militarily, Serraj called on the European Union to intervene in order to stop the violations committed by ‘‘some states’’ by supplying the aggressor force (Hafter) with weapons, in clear violation of the Security Council resolution banning the supply of weapons to Libya. Serraj maintained that the Tripoli battle in reality is between those who wanted to militarize the state and those who want to uphold the civil state.

Serraj reiterated that any talk of a ceasefire must bring about the withdrawal of the aggressor forces (Hafter) and their return to where they came from.

In his meeting with Donald Tusk, Serraj outlined the position of his government and expressed his surprise by the Hafter attack on Tripoli as his government was preparing to hold the UN-brokered National Conference (Multaqa) in Ghadames.

Serraj stressed that his ‘‘government forces’’ were exercising their legitimate right to repel the treacherous aggression until it is defeated and demanded a common and just European position not equating between the aggressor and the victim.

Serraj added that the aim of Hafter’s Tripoli attack was clear to all as an attempt to abort the political process and restore totalitarian rule to Libya, which he said would not happen.  He stressed that the will of the people would prevail to build their desired civil state, a state of the rule of law and institutions.

Tusk was reported by the Libyan government stressing that Libya was a strategic partner of the EU, and that its stability was crucial to the security of the region in the southern Mediterranean and the Sahel region.

Tusk was also reported as saying that the attack on Tripoli threatened the peace process that had taken a long way to reach a settlement. He also stressed that the European Union would work to find a formula for a ceasefire and contribute to a peaceful and democratic solution within the framework of the United Nations.

Donald Tusk also tweeted that he had ‘‘Discussed the situation in Libya with PM al-Serraj this morning. The EU calls on all parties to immediately implement a ceasefire. All parties should re-commit to the UN-facilitated political dialogue. There is no military solution.’’

On the fighting front meanwhile, the battle lines remain largely unchanged as a stalemate seems to dominate.

The death and casualty toll continued to rise as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Tripoli armed conflict had now killed 454 people and wounded 2,154 people, including three ambulance workers whose vehicle was struck. The latest UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report stated that there were 111 Health Sector verified civilian casualties, including 23 civilian deaths. 

The Serraj side confirmed that the Hafter LNA had carried out air strikes on Thursday in Janzour, Wadi Rabea and at the Islamic Call Society headquarters off Swani Road and that back up troops were arriving in Tripoli from Misrata.

There were also LNA air strikes in Tajura and Zawia. The Tajura strike was claimed to have been conducted by a drone hitting an area with no clear military purpose. the Serraj aligned forces claimed it led to the injury of at least two civilians, including a child. The Zawia hit was claimed to be on a militia base there.

On the humanitarian side, OCHA confirmed on 8 May, a clearly marked armoured ambulance vehicle carrying the Director of Tripoli’s Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services in the Twaisha area of Gaser Ben Ghasheer was hit in what it referred to as ‘‘an apparent direct attack’’. It confirmed that the hit injured two paramedics and left the Director in critical condition with the loss of both his legs in the attack.

OCHA said that this was ‘‘the latest in an alarmingly high incidence of attacks on first responders and medical staff’’.  It reminded that since the beginning of the offensive in Tripoli, 4 health workers have been killed, 4 have been injured, 12 ambulances have been impacted and 2 health facilities were evacuated as a result of armed clashes, shelling and airstrikes.

These incidents, it said, further hamper the ability of already overstretched health services to provide vital assistance to civilians, including those inured as a result of armed conflict.

On 9 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator condemned the incident as a serious breach of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). WHO likewise condemned the incident in a statement on 9 May. It remined that all parties to the conflict are obligated to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects, including medical personnel and assets. Deliberate attacks on clearly marked medical transports constitute war crimes under International Human Rights Law (IHL).

The report revealed that approximately 62,700 persons have now fled their homes as a result of the armed conflict. About 3,900 new IDPs have been identified since 7 May. The majority of IDPs are staying in private accommodation, with friends and relatives or in rental accommodation, mainly in urban areas of Tripoli. Many IDPs have also moved to areas along the coastal line of Western Libya and the Nafusa mountains, while approximately 2,700 IDPs are hosted in collective shelters established by local authorities and first responders.

Up to date, the report said that 29 collective shelters have been set up, the majority of which are in schools with some others in hotels, resorts and university dorms. An increasing number of IDPs are being identified in areas further away from Tripoli, a trend which is likely to increase the radius in need of humanitarian assistance.

Over the night of 7-8 May, the report confirmed that airstrikes against a GNA compound in Tajura caused damage and injured two persons within the Tajura detention centre (DC) located in close proximity, in which some 564 refugees and migrants were detained at the time.

In a statement on 8 May, UNHCR called for all refugees and migrants in DCs in conflict areas to be immediately evacuated to safety. On 9 May, UNHCR transferred 228 individuals from Zawia (116 Individuals), Tajura (68 individuals) and Al Sabah (44 individuals) DCs to the UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli. This leaves approximately 3,300 refugees and migrants trapped in DCs in areas exposed to or at risk of armed conflict and where access to food, water and healthcare are severely restricted due to the conflict.

The international humanitarian community, the report said, continues to call for these individuals to be immediately released and provided with safe shelter until their asylum claims can be processed or they can be provided with safe repatriation assistance for reunification with their families. The international humanitarian community likewise urgently reminds parties to the conflict of their obligations under IHL to refrain from positioning military assets in or near civilian objects, including places of detention.

The OCHA report goes on to explain that the conflict in and around Tripoli is making it increasingly difficult for assistance to reach people in need in other areas of the country, particularly in the southern region, where the recent conflict has exacerbated existing humanitarian concerns.

The disruption of transport of key goods, due to the presence of conflict and combatants along major trade routes is increasing the severity of already existing shortages. Reportedly, the report says, delivery of fuel to petrol stations in the south has ceased since the start of the conflict in Tripoli, leaving residents to resort to the black market and facing high price increases.

Access to food, gas cylinders for cooking, electricity, cash liquidity and health services are also reported to be restricted. Parties to the conflict have pulled some of their forces from the south to join the frontlines in around Tripoli, reportedly leading to increased lawlessness and security incidents, especially along the Jufra trade route, also contributing to the shortages in supplies of essential items, the report says. 

Displaced and conflict-affected individuals, including refugees and migrants, face obstacles in meeting basic food needs due to disruption of supply chains, market closures and rising prices brought on by scarcity.

Conflict-affected individuals – including IDPs, refugees and migrants, and civilians trapped in conflict areas – have had their access to health care services severely disrupted. Injured civilians and persons with specific medical needs are in urgent need of medical assistance – assistance which is increasingly strained due to attacks impacting health workers and facilities.

The report also says that instances of kidnapping, forced disappearance and arrest of civilians (including IDPs) originally from the east of Libya (due to their perceived political affiliation) have been increasing.

The company contracted to perform maintenance of the Man-Made River Project (MMRP) has evacuated its staff due to the security situation. As a result, the total water distribution for Tripoli has been reduced from 520,000 cubic meters per day prior to the start of the conflict to 330,000 cubic meters at present. Water distribution for the county as a whole has reduced by one quarter from 1,200,000 to 800,000 cubic meters per day, the OCHA report says.

Anti Hafter HoR faction holds session in Tripoli

By Sami Zaptia.

Libya Herald, London, 9 May 2019:

Fifty-seven, mainly western-based, members of the House of Representatives (HoR), Libya’s internationally recognized parliament which is officially based in Tobruk and headed by Ageela Saleh, held another session at the Rixos complex in Tripoli yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference after the session, the breakaway body’s official spokesperson, Hamouda Siala, said that they had formed four committees: The first to review the internal rules of their breakaway HoR; the second to create a secretariat; the third an international liaison committee and the fourth a crisis committee.

It will be recalled that the new breakaway HoR had held its first session in Tripoli on 2 May in opposition to the war waged by Khalifa Hafter and his Libyan National Army (LNA) and their allied forces on Tripoli. Hafter is supported fully by HoR head Ageela Saleh.

They had discussed the possibility of removing the authority of Ageela Saleh to appoint the General Commander of the Libyan Army in view of his support for Hafter’s attack on Tripoli. They had also rejected the use of force and reiterated their call for a political solution.

They had stressed that the session they had held in Tripoli was not an attempt to carry out a coup against the Tobruk HoR nor a call for a division of the country, as evidenced by the fact that the Tripoli session was attended by members from across the country, they had claimed.

No let-up in Tripoli fighting as death and wounded toll rises ignoring UNSMIL call for temporary Ramadan humanitarian ceasefire

By Sami Zaptia.

Libya Herald, London, 8 May 2019:

Hostilities have continued in the Tripoli fighting along the established frontlines on the outskirts of the capital, despite UNSMIL calls for a humanitarian truce to coincide with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the UN’s Libya Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report confirms.

The fighting continues as the World Health Organization latest report revealed today that the death toll rose to 443 and wounded to 2,110 since the outbreak of fighting on 4 April.

The OCHA report said that airstrikes, rocket/shelling attacks and armed clashes have taken place against various military positions in and around Tripoli ‘‘at the same intensity as previous days’’, with ‘‘no significant gains for either side’’.

In the absence of a humanitarian truce, the report said, civilians trapped in conflict areas remain unable to move freely to safer areas and humanitarian actors’ access to those in need remains restricted.

It will be recalled that on 5 May, UNSMIL called on all parties to observe a one-week, extendable truce to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and to provide for the freedom of movement of civilians. However, on the same day, LNA commander Khalifa Haftar issued a statement calling on his forces to redouble their efforts in fighting during Ramadan, the OCHA report noted.

The report says that to date, 104 civilian casualties have been verified by the Health Sector, including 23 civilian deaths. These include four health workers killed, with one other doctor injured, since hostilities commenced.  The report reminds that these figures include only cases that could be individually verified, and so must be considered a minimum.

The report also says that 58,800 persons have now fled their homes as a result of the armed conflict. With about 3,900 new IDPs having been identified since 5 May in all the north western region.

The report continued to express concern over delays and inconsistencies in the import and customs clearance of humanitarian cargo entering Libya. Medical supplies have been reported to be sealed in warehouses, unable to be distributed. The UN is raising the issue with authorities in hope of expediting the delivery of urgently needed assistance, the report added.

The report stated that Libyan households, refugees and migrants in areas closest to frontline fighting are the most adversely impacted with regards to displacement. Freedom of movement was found to be partially or completely restricted in most of the areas assessed due to proximity to armed conflict, limiting the ability of refugees and migrants to move freely, or to be evacuated, to safer areas.

Refugees and migrants relying on daily wage labour found it hard to find jobs, as well as a lack of access to markets and food. Facing the same insecurities as conflict-affected Libyans, refugees and migrants are especially vulnerable as they lack similar extended family/social networks on whom to rely for shelter/support in times of crisis and face discrimination in accessing collective shelters and other services.

The report says that about 168,000 urban refugees and migrants were estimated to be residing in the assessed areas prior to the crisis. Nearly 3,500 refugees and migrants also remain trapped in detention centres exposed to or at risk of armed conflict. Some urban refugees and migrants have requested to be taken into detention due to the lack of available shelter and services, the report reveals.

Meanwhile, on the fighting front, the news has been dominated by the alleged capture of a foreign ‘‘mercenary’’ pilot from a downed jet fighter aligned to the Faiez Serraj internationally recognized Presidency Council and Government of National Accord (PC/GNA).

The Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed that the downed fighter jet was a Mirage FI. Media sources widely reported that the pilot reported that he was Portuguese giving his name as Jimmy Reise/Reece/Reyes. The claims were accompanied with photographs of the alleged pilot receiving medical treatment. Social media, meanwhile, carried video footage of the alleged Portuguese fighter pilot. None of this confirms yet that the LNA had shot down a jet fighter piloted by this foreign ‘‘mercenary’’.

On the political front, Faiez Serraj is on a diplomatic tour of the European capitals of Italy, Germany, France and the UK in an attempt to put forward his case and seek pressure on Hafter to ceasefire and withdraw to the status que ante.


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