Conflict

UN Envoy to Libya in UAE amidst international efforts to end the violence

The United Nations Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, met with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing clashes in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

In the meeting, both figures emphasised the need to end the fighting and redirect efforts towards “a unified roadmap for reuniting the Libyans and helping them to agree and reconcile”.

The meeting between Salame and bin Zayed comes amidst warnings by other international actors about prolonging the conflict in Tripoli amidst rising casualties and growing levels of displacement.

In a joint statement by six countries, including Italy, the UK and Egypt, it called for a de-escalation to the fighting and similarly echoed a return to the peace process roadmap for Libya sponsored by the UN.

However, this statement was rebuffed by the spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA), Ahmed al-Mesmari, who stated that the LNA will continue to develop its positions around Tripoli and prepare for further conflict.

The clashes in Tripoli began in April when the LNA, which is led by Khalifa Haftar, declared an assault on the capital, which is held by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and its allied militias.

Haftar’s forces control large swaths of the country in the east and are backed by Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The GNA, which is headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, is largely backed by Qatar and Turkey, and is the government recognised by the UN.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that 1,048 people have been killed, including 106 civilians since April. A further 5,558 people have been wounded, including 289 civilians.

This announcement came after 80 people, mostly migrants and refugees from other African countries, were killed following an airstrike by the LNA on a migrant centre in Tajoura, located in the south of Tripoli.

Amidst these clashes, there are growing fears that ISIS militants are exploiting the violence to reemerge in Libya. At its height in 2014  and 2015, the group held small areas of the country, with its capital situated in the coastal town of Sirte.

However, the group was largely ousted from Sirte by September 2016, although small-scale skirmishes continued until December 2016. Since that time, the group has withdrawn to the southern desert areas and occasionally conducted small scale attacks against civilian and military targets.

Image: WAM