UN chief: foreign fighters still in Libya breaching ceasefire Middle East News


Antonio Guterres calls for an end to violations of the arms embargo and the withdrawal of all foreign fighters.

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has said that foreign fighters and mercenaries remain in Libya in breach of a ceasefire agreement last year, calling for their withdrawal and an end to violations of the embargo. UN weapons.

In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres said on Friday that the good transfer of power in March to a new interim government of national unity (GNU) “brings renewed hope for the reunification of the country and its institutions and for lasting peace “. However, he said progress must be made on political, economic and security avenues to allow elections to move forward by the end of this year.

Libya has been ravaged by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011 and eventually split the oil-rich country between a UN-recognized government in the capital , Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east of the country. Each band was supported by armed groups and foreign governments.

In April 2019, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and east-based forces, backed by Egypt and the UAE and Russian mercenaries, launched an offensive to try to capture Tripoli. The 14-month campaign collapsed after Turkey intensified its military support for the UN-recognized government with Syrian troops and mercenaries.

An October 2020 ceasefire agreement that included the demand of all foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave Libya within 90 days led to an agreement on the new transitional government of national unity and elections scheduled for December 24th.

The UN estimated in December 2020 that there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians. But at an informal council meeting in late April, speakers said there were more than 20,000, including 13,000 Syrians and 11,000 Sudanese, according to diplomats.

“No reduction of foreign troops”

Guterres said in the new report that as the ceasefire continues, the United Nations political mission in Libya has received reports of the creation of fortifications and defensive positions in central Libya on the key route between the strategic city of Libya. Sirte, the gateway to the country’s major oil fields and export terminals, and Jufra.

“Despite the commitments made by the parties, air cargo activities continued with flights to various air bases in the western and eastern regions of Libya,” the secretary-general said. “Reports indicated that there was no reduction in foreign fighters or their activities in central Libya.”

Guterres said GNU should prioritize security sector reform, including civilian and military positions, the production of a roadmap to reunify the Libyan army, and address the proliferation of armed groups.

“It is vital that one of the world’s largest uncontrolled stocks of weapons and ammunition be controlled by the state,” he said. “I reiterate my call on member states and Libyan national actors to end violations of the arms embargo and facilitate the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from the country.”

Last month, the Security Council passed a resolution urging all foreign and mercenary forces to leave Libya and authorizing a small UN team to oversee the ceasefire agreement. In an April 7 letter to the council, Guterres proposed an initial maximum of 60 monitors for gradual deployment as part of the UN mission in the country.

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