Aid agencies want UN resolution to protect Libyans caught in fighting


Aid agencies in Libya called for a UN resolution to support people caught in fighting around Tripoli, where the United Nations says 66,000 people have been forced from their homes and at least 454 killed since early April.

Forces loyal to Libya’s government are defending the capital against an offensive by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar, who accuses the administration of being controlled by terrorists, a charge it denies.

Haftar is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates but denounced by internationally-recognised Prime Minister Fayez Serraj as an “aspiring military dictator”.

As well as uprooting thousands of Libyans, Haftar’s campaign adds to the hardship faced by migrants using Libya’s western coast to set off on perilous sea journeys to Europe.

A report on migrants and displaced people by the “Protection Sector” group of aid agencies, co-ordinated by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said 3,000 migrants remain in detention centres close to areas of fighting,and the use of medium and heavy weapons in populated areas continues unabated.

“The UN Security Council should adopt a resolution calling for protection of civilians and accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” the Protection Sector said.

It said the European Union should stop hampering search and rescue in the Mediterranean, ensure anyone rescued can go to a safe port as required by international law and stop supporting Libya’s use of detention centres until standards in the facilities improved.

Last week a migrant boat capsized killing 59 people and since the Tripoli clashes began, 871 migrants have been picked up and returned to detention in often unacceptable conditions, according to the UN migration agency.

Charlie Yaxley, a UNHCR spokesman, said nobody should be returned to Libya and returning people there could not be considered a “rescue”.

In Tripoli, the UN-backed government said shelter has been provided to 70,000 displaced people.

Hotels and resorts have been mobilised to receive the displaced, the head of the government Emergency Committee, Othman Abduljaleel, told official Al-Rasmiya TV channel.

Exchanges of gunfire and rockets continue but there are no changes to frontlines around the capital.

On Tuesday, a rocket hit Qaser Ben Ghashir, a southern Tripoli area controlled by Haftar forces, killing at least two people, a local witness told Reuters.