Fri, Apr 19, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Powers divided over UN call on Libya

STALEMATE:At least 205 people have been killed since forces started marching on April 4, while an unidentified group attacked Haftar’s main air base in the south

AFP, UNITED NATIONS

The UN Security Council on Wednesday was divided on how to address a crisis in Libya, after fresh negotiations on a draft resolution demanding a ceasefire in Tripoli failed to yield agreement.

Germany, which holds the council presidency, called for an urgent meeting after Tripoli witnessed the heaviest fighting since commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize the capital nearly two weeks ago.

The council was due to meet yesterday to hear a briefing on the situation on the ground and “consult on the way forward,” a note sent by German diplomats said.

At least 205 people have been killed, 900 injured and 25,000 displaced since Haftar ordered his forces to march on Tripoli on April 4, the WHO and UN said yesterday.

“Tripoli witnessed the heaviest fighting since the outbreak of clashes, with indiscriminate rocket fire on a high-density neighborhood in the Libyan capital,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“In the past 24 hours, we’ve also seen the highest single-day increase in displacement, with more than 4,500 people displaced,” Dujarric added.

Britain has put forward a draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation, but Russia threw up concerns over language that criticized Haftar’s offensive as a threat to Libya’s stability.

A slightly watered-down version was put forward by Britain on Wednesday, but the three African nations on the council — Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast and South Africa — blocked it.

Russia also said that the measure, even after it was amended, was “still far away from accommodating our concerns,” according to a note from the Russian mission.

The revised text did not single out Haftar’s forces, but instead expressed “grave concern at military activity” near Tripoli, “including the launching of a military offensive by the LNA,” Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

The three African nations insisted that there be a reference to an African Union statement on the need for all parties fighting in Tripoli to protect civilians, including migrants and refugees, documents said.

Britain had hoped to hold a vote before today, but that now appears unlikely.

Diplomats said that the US appeared to be dragging its feet in pushing for a quick adoption of the draft resolution.

Meanwhile, an armed group yesterday attacked a major air base in southern Libya controlled by Haftar, officials said.

Fighting was continuing at the Tamanhint base near Sabha, the main city in southern Libya, Sabha Mayor Hamid Rafaa al-Khiyali and an eastern military official said, without giving more details.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.

The base is Haftar’s main air base in southern Libya, which the LNA seized earlier this year, although tribesmen with flexible loyalties remain strong in region.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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