UN tells other countries to stay out of Libya


The United Nations Security Council condemned a deadly air strike on a migrant detention centre in Libya, called for warring parties to commit to a ceasefire and urged other countries not to intervene or exacerbate the conflict.

The 15-member council met last Wednesday after the attack which killed at least 53 people, including six children.

It was unable to issue a statement, which needs consensus, because the United States could not agree to it, diplomats said. The statement issued on Friday was largely unchanged from that discussed on Wednesday they said.

“The members of the Security Council stressed the need for all parties to urgently de-escalate the situation and commit to a ceasefire,” the statement read. “Lasting peace and stability in Libya will come only through a political solution.”

The migrant centre attack marked the highest publicly reported toll from an air strike or shelling since eastern forces under Khalifa Haftar launched a ground and aerial offensive three months ago to take the capital Tripoli, the base of Libya’s internationally recognised government.

The UN Security Council struggled to unify on dealing with the renewed violence. Shortly after Haftar began his offensive, the United States and Russia told council colleagues that they could not support a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya.

Chaos prevails in the oil- and gas-producing North African country since the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The warring parties enjoy military support from regional powers. Haftar’s forces have been supplied by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while Turkey recently shipped arms to Tripoli to stop Haftar’s assault, diplomats say.

“The Security Council called for full respect for the arms embargo by all member states,” the statement read, and “called on all member states not to intervene in the conflict or take measures that exacerbate the conflict.”

Libya is a main departure points for African migrants fleeing poverty and war to reach Italy by boat. Many are intercepted at sea and brought back by the Libyan coast guard, with the approval of the European Union.

The Security Council “expressed deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Libya and called on the parties to allow full access for humanitarian agencies”. It added it was “concerned about conditions in detention centres, the responsibility of the Libyan Government.”

About 6,000 people are held in government-run detention centres in what human rights groups and the United Nations say are often inhumane conditions.