“Serious crisis”: 20,000 foreign fighters in Libya, according to the UN | Middle East


At least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries are in Libya, causing a “serious crisis” as arms continue to flow into the war-torn North African country, a United Nations official warned on Wednesday.
“This is a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty … a blatant violation of the arms embargo,” UN Interim Envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams said at an online meeting of the Forum Libyan political dialogue.

The 75-member forum is trying to get the warring parties in Libya to agree on a mechanism that would establish a transitional administration to lead the country in the presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2021.

The rally is part of UN efforts to end chaos in Libya, a major oil producer, which has been plagued by violence since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed the veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The country has been dominated by armed groups since 2015 and divided between two fiercely opposed administrations: the Government of National Accord (GNA), negotiated by the UN, and a rival administration in the east backed by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar .

“It is incumbent on all actors to respect Libyan demands to leave the country so that the Libyans can come together, so that the ceasefire can actually be implemented, that the military forces can withdraw,” said Williams later at Al Jazeera.

His remarks reflect his exasperation at the lack of progress on the departure of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, which was part of a ceasefire agreement signed in October.

“Time is on nobody’s side here,” added Williams. “There is now a constituency of change in the country to come together. There are well-justified fears, a justified lack of trust between the different parties. But the country is slipping away.

‘Behave with impunity’

The ceasefire set a three-month deadline for foreign forces to leave Libya. Thousands of people – including Russians, Syrians, Sudanese and Chadians – have been brought in by rival camps, according to UN experts.

Williams also criticized unspecified foreign governments for “behaving with impunity” and for deepening the Libyan conflict with mercenaries and weapons.

Haftar – backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates – launched an offensive on the capital Tripoli in April 2019 but was repulsed in June by the GNA with military support from Turkey in an operation that repulsed his troops in the central coastal town. of Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace.

Williams also warned of an “imminent power grid collapse” in Libya due to corruption and mismanagement, noting that a billion dollar investment in infrastructure is immediately needed, given that only 13 of the 27 Libyan power plants are in operation.

She said 1.3 million of the over 6.8 million Libyans are expected to need humanitarian assistance in January.


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