United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, called for an end to the fighting that erupted last week between Libyan political rivals for control of the capital, Tripoli.
“It’s still time to stop. It’s still time for a ceasefire to take place, for a cessation of hostilities to take place, and to avoid the worse, which would be a dramatic bloody battle for Tripoli”
Following behind-closed-doors consultations of the Security Council on Libya, Guterres told reporters “there are terrible concerns in relation to, not only the life of the Libyans, but also of the migrants and refugees in the city, and other foreigners in the city, and one reason more for us to believe that we absolutely need to stop this.”
Thousands of Libyans have fled their homes in the capital Tripoli following the eruption of war between eastern forces and troops loyal to the Tripoli government.
The United Nations says at least 4,500 people had been displaced, most moving away from homes in conflict areas to search for refuge in other cities. Thousands more are however trapped in the capital.
On Tuesday, the UN Refugee Agency relocated more than 150 refugees from the Ain Zara detention centre in south Tripoli to UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility in a nearby safe zone.
“I am particularly worried with migrants and refugees that were caught in this terrible situation. I am happy it was possible for UNHCR to evacuate one of the detention camps, but there are terrible concerns in relation to, not only the life of the Libyans, but also of the migrants and refugees in the city, and other foreigners in the city, and one reason more for us to believe that we absolutely need to stop this fighting.”
Guterres said that while it was clear that there was need to restart a serious political dialogue and political negotiation “it is obvious that that cannot take place without fully stopping hostilities.”
Libya has been at war for nearly a decade, heightened by the killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi’s death created a void that various armed groups sought to take advantage of.
The chaos in Libya enabled the breeding of various militant groups, including human trafficking rings that made the North African country a preferred departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe.