UN calls for security reforms over Libyan capital’s clashes

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The United Nations has condemned clashes between two Libyan armed groups and therefore called for security reforms in the country.

The recent clashes involved the use of heavy weapons between two militia groups in a residential suburb of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

UNSMIL, the world body’s support mission in Libya, in a statement late Friday expressed “great concern” over the fighting in the eastern suburb of Tajoura.

“Heavy weapons” were used in a “civilian-populated neighborhood,” in clashes that caused “damage to private properties and put civilians in harm’s way,” it said.

UNSMIL said it “reminds all parties of their obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law” and called for urgent reforms to boost security.

Late Thursday, the clashes broke out between two militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), but the cause remains unclear.

Not less than three people died due to the violent attacks, leaving several others wounded in the two camps, according to unconfirmed local reports.

Locals said the clashes ended at midday on Friday.

UN diplomats said on Friday that Russia and China meanwhile blocked the official release of a report by UN experts on Libya that accused its warring parties and their international backers — including Russia — of violating a UN arms embargo on the conflict-wracked country.

Germany’s deputy UN ambassador, Günter Sautter, said he brought the issue to the Security Council after the two countries blocked the report’s release by the committee monitoring sanctions on Libya, which Germany heads.

Sautter, however, promised he would “continue to use every tool at hand in order to make sure that we have the necessary transparency.”

“Many delegations have asked for the publication of the panel of experts’ interim report,” he said.

“This would create much needed transparency. It would contribute to naming and shaming those who continue to blatantly violate the arms embargo in spite of agreements that have been made, he added.

But diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because Friday’s council consultations were closed, said Russia and close ally China again blocked the report’s publication.

Sautter said before the meeting, when asked what Germany could do if Russia and China blocked the report’s release again: “Let me assure you I will continue to use every tool at hand in order to make sure that we have the necessary transparency.”

The report this month said the arms embargo was being violated by Libya’s UN-supported government in the west, which is backed by Turkey and Qatar, and by rival east-based forces under commander Khalifa Haftar, backed by Russia.

The panel said the embargo remains “totally ineffective.”

The experts said 11 companies also violated the arms embargo, including the Wagner Group, a private Russian security company that the panel said in May provided between 800 and 1,200 mercenaries to Haftar.

They further explained that the warring parties and their international backers failed to inspect aircraft or vessels if they have reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains military weapons and ammunition, as required by a 2015 Security Council resolution.

In the years after the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has sunk further into turmoil and is now divided between two rival administrations based in the country’s east and west, with an array of fighters and militias backed by various foreign powers allied with each side.

The Security Council adopted a resolution on 15 September demanding that all countries enforce the widely violated UN arms embargo on Libya and withdraw all mercenaries from the North African nation.

It also extended the UN political mission in Libya and called for political talks and a cease-fire in the war, which the UN has been pursuing.

However, finding a replacement acceptable to all Security Council diplomats has proven exceedingly difficult.

The Security Council has agreed that there will be a special envoy “and we need an agreement urgently on who that is going to be, according to Germany’s Sautter.

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