By Sami Zaptia.
London, 4 April 2020:
One year on from the attack on Tripoli by Khalifa Hafter and his Libyan National Army (LNA) and their aligned forces, there has been no progress on the ground with no realistic resolution in sight.
Instead, there have been many deaths, displaced civilians, damaged infrastructure and loss of social cohesion. The war has been sustained by continuous external interference and the de facto acquiescence, and what former UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame referred to as the ”hypocracy”of the international community.
”I regret to report that the truce holds only in name.”
”There are unscrupulous actors inside and outside Libya who cynically nod and wink towards efforts to promote peace and piously affirm their support for the UN. Meanwhile, they continue to double down on a military solution.” – Former UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame to the UN Security Council in January 2020.
Today, the Head of the EU Delegation, Alan Bugeja, sent a message to the Libyan people:
‘‘Dear friends and partners. Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of the LNA offensive on Tripoli. This happened at a time when we were looking forward to the UNSMIL facilitated National Conference which we all hoped would finally usher the country towards stability.
Instead, we find ourselves one year on counting the cost – hundreds of civilian dead, hundreds of thousands displaced, the destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, billions lost in oil production, even wider divisions among Libyans and a deteriorating quality of life for most of you.
At this desperate time you now face another danger which, after nine years of conflict and instability, threatens to take your country to the abyss. The international community, including most recently the EU and its member states, has been calling for a humanitarian truce as the only way to which will allow you to contain the corona virus pandemic. Regretfully, not only have these calls not been heeded but the fighting over the past days has intensified.
You must realise that this pandemic is now your number one enemy. You can only fight if the violence stops and if you all decide to combine your efforts and make this an overriding national priority. There is no other way. We and our partners are ready to help you in this fight.
To grasp the gravity of your situation just look across the sea to see what is happening in our countries. We have the most advanced health systems, we are among the wealthiest nations on earth and we are not fighting each other. Yet we are still struggling with the pandemic. There is no more time to lose. God preserve you and Libya.’’
Meanwhile, on Thursday (2 April) UNSMIL head and Acting SRSG Stephanie Williams chaired a videoconference of the 2nd International Follow-up Committee on Libya meeting. During this conference she ‘‘deplored the dire consequences of the year-long war, urged participants to confirm their commitments to the Berlin conclusions and abide by the UN arms embargo.’’
Participants at the conference also reiterated the primacy of a political solution to the Libyan crisis. They urged the parties to immediately cease hostilities, respect the humanitarian truce in line with the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire and his call for unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout Libya.