UN voices concern over closure of oil ports in Libya

BREGA, LIBYA - JUNE 2: The Brega facilities fall under the managment of the Libyan National Oil Corporation, and maintain some of the oldest and newest equipment in the Libyan oil Industry on June 2, 2004 in Brega, Libya. With the lifting of US sanctions against Libya earlier this year, American oil companies, eager to find other avenues for oil exploration have begun negotiating with the Libyan government to return to its vast oil fields. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: The Brega facilities fall under the management of the Libyan National Oil Corporation, and maintain some of the oldest and newest equipment in the Libyan oil Industry. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Saturday expressed concern over closure of oil ports in eastern Libya by tribal leaders.

“UNSMIL expresses deep concern over current efforts to disrupt or impair oil production in Libya,” UNSMIL said in a statement.

“This move would have devastating consequences first and foremost for the Libyan people who depend on the free flow of oil for their well-being and will also have terrible knock-on effects for the country’s already deteriorated economic and financial situation,” it added.

“The Mission urges all Libyans to exercise maximum restraint while international negotiations continue to broker an end to Libya’s longstanding crisis, including recommending measures to ensure transparency in the allocation of resources,” the statement said.

It also “reiterates the importance of preserving the integrity and neutrality of the National Oil Corporation (NOC).”

Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the NOC of the UN-backed government, on Friday warned that shutting down oil production and exporting will lead to collapse of the exchange rate of local currency against foreign currencies, huge increase in the national deficit, departure of foreign contractors and loss of future production.

Local media said that a number of tribal elders in eastern Libya stormed control chambers inside oil ports and demanded operators to shut down the ports.

The tribal leaders accused the UN-backed government of using oil revenues to support armed groups against the eastern-based army in the capital Tripoli.

The eastern-based army of Libya has been leading a military campaign since early April in and around the capital Tripoli, trying to take over the city and topple the rival UN-backed government.

The fighting killed and injured thousands of people, and forced more than 120,000 civilians to flee their homes.

Berlin will host an international conference on Libya on Sunday, with participation of both parties to the conflict as well as a number of regional and international countries.

The conference aims to end the deadly ongoing armed conflict between the two rivals and resume the political dialogue in the country.

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