The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Wednesday in a virtual briefing of the Security Council that with battle lines shifting, foreign interference growing, thousands fleeing their homes and COVID-19 cases on the rise, time is running out for bringing a peaceful end to the conflict in Libya.
Guterres described the situation in Libya as “gloomy” and urged the international community to seize every opportunity to unblock the political stalemate.
“Time is not on our side in Libya. The conflict has entered a new phase, with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting.” Guterres explained.
He added that the UN is very concerned by an alarming military build-up around Sirte, as well as “a high level of direct foreign interference” in violation of a UN arms embargo, Security Council resolutions and commitments made at the Berlin International Conference on Libya six months ago.
"Almost 30,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to continuing fighting in Tripoli’s southern suburbs, due to siege by (Haftar's forces) for more than a year ago, and in Tarhouna, which bring the total number of internally displaced persons in Libya to more than 400,000." Guterres said.
The Secretary-General added that the UN would keep working with the parties to reach a ceasefire and resume a political process to end a crisis of warring factions, and economic collapse, despite the country’s large oil reserves.
He added that the UN stands ready to help Libya secure and investigate mass graves discovered when GNA forces retook control of Tarhouna, a former stronghold for Haftar's forces - about 100 km south-east of Tripoli.
Security Council Highly Inefficient
Meanwhile, Libya's ambassador to the UN, Taher El Sonni told the virtual Security Council meeting that the international bloc "has become inefficient and needs to be fixed," saying some member states speak of "no military solution, but keep giving Haftar weapons".
He also reminded Security Council member states of the scenes showing Russian Wagner Group mercenaries leaving Bani Walid town, calling on Moscow to withdraw its soldiers from Libya.
UAE, Egypt Help Undermine Regional Security
El Sonni wondered why the UAE is participating in meetings on Libya while it isn't a Mediterranean country or a permanent Security Council member state, adding that Abu Dhabi supports military coup in Libya and thus, Libyans no longer agree to see the UAE present in meetings on Libya.
He also rejected Egypt's threats made by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, saying Cairo's support for Haftar is threatening regional and international security.
El Sonni also said that some Security Council member states are behind the shutdown of oil in Libya, which has lost so far 6.5 billion dollars due to the blockade, adding that Libyan Army forces under the GNA will free all oil facilities and eliminate all threats to the resources of Libyan people.
US Urges for Probing Tarhouna Mass Graves
The US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, told the virtual Security Council meeting that Washington strongly rejects attempts to seize control of oil ports in Libya by foreign mercenaries by force and military action.
The US ambassador to the UN added that the perpetrators of crimes in Libya should be immediately brought to justice, hailing the Security Council's agreement on sending a fact-finding mission to find out the truth of such horrendous crimes in Libya, reiterating that Washington agrees on a thorough UN investigation into the mass graves in Libya's Tarhouna.