UNSMIL condemns repeated airstrikes on civilian targets in western Libya

By Sami Zaptia.

London, 29 December 2019:

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) in Libya and UNSMIL head, Ghassan Salame, yesterday strongly condemned repeated airstrikes targeting civilian installations in western Libya, including Zawia, Tajoura and Abu Salim.

“We have said it loud and clear that indiscriminate attacks against civilians not only constitute a grave violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law, but also further escalate the conflict and incite future acts of revenge, which threaten the social unity in Libya,” warned SRSG Salame. “This is utterly unacceptable.”

The condemnation statement said that yesterday, the Institute of Applied Engineering, located in the proximity of Al-Nasser Migrants Centre in Al-Zawia, where hundreds of migrants are being held, was attacked by an airstrike. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported in the airstrike.

The statement added that on 26 December and in Al-Zawia, two civilians were killed, and eight others injured with public and personal property destroyed by airstrikes, conducted by General Haftar’s forces.  On 27 December, attacks in Abu Salim resulted in the death of one civilian and the injury of six civilians, including two children.  Also, on 24 December in Tajoura, airstrikes resulted in a number of casualties among civilians.

Salame stressed the need for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure across Libya. “The principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must at all times be fully respected,” he added.

Prior to the above incidents, UNSMIL and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) announced that at least 284 civilian deaths and 363 injuries have been documented in 2019 as a result of the armed conflict in Libya – an increase of more than a quarter over the number of casualties recorded during the same period last year. Airstrikes were the leading cause of civilian casualties, accounting for 182 deaths and 212 injuries, followed by ground fighting, improvised explosive devices, abductions and killings, the statement said.

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