As rival factions continue to fight in and around the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the United Nations is warning that more children are “at imminent risk of injury or death.”
Since earlier this month, strongman Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, has waged a war against the UN-backed government in a bid to take control of Tripoli.
According to the United Nations, the fighting has killed at least 205 people and wounded over 900 others.
Tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes, many of whom have been trapped in the war zone.
Calling the escalation in fighting “the worst in years”, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a statement reminding the warring factions that they are obliged “to protect children at all times in full compliance with international law”.
“Killing, injuring and recruiting children, and attacks on education, medical and water facilities are all grave violations of children’s rights and must cease immediately”, they stated – reminding that in line with Security Council resolution 2427, “prevention measures must be put in place to better protect children”.
The statement noted that an estimated 500,000 children had been affected by the violence, 1,800 of whom need to be urgently evacuated from frontline fighting.
“Libya has suffered through more than seven years of persistent conflict that has left at least 820,000 people, including some 250,000 children, in dire need of humanitarian assistance”, the UN officials stressed, “and the situation is deteriorating yet again”.
“For their sake, and the sake of the country’s future, the fighting must stop,” concluded Mses. Fore and Gamba.