Malta has expressed concerns over the ongoing military offensive on Tripoli and its surroundings, saying it, like many other countries, was taken by surprise that just few days before the National Conference in Ghadames, a fully-fledged military campaign was launched to take over the Libyan capital.
In an interview with The Libya Observer, Maltese Ambassador for Libya Charles Saliba said his country is deeply saddened with the resulting fatalities, injuries and displacement of thousands of Libyans from Tripoli.
“Malta continues to reiterate that a military offensive is not a viable solution and calls on all parties to refrain from the direct targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, which constitutes a direct violation of International Humanitarian Law and the Human Rights Convention.” He stated, adding that preserving human life is of paramount importance and a principle, which should be strictly observed by the warring parties.
Ambassador Saliba expressed support for the United Nation's action plan in Libya and to the efforts of United Nations Special Representative, Ghassan Salame, to settle the Libyan crisis, calling for a ceasefire and return to the political track.
“Malta reiterates that the overarching baseline remains that of a full commitment by the Libyan people and the international community alike to the political process through the renunciation of the military track. Adopting a ceasefire would, therefore, be essential in continuing this same political process, for the benefit of the Libyan people.” He explained.
“The importance of a ceasefire between the parties involved cannot, therefore, be underestimated. The adoption of a ceasefire would enable work to continue towards developing a comprehensive political solution including the holding of national elections as part of Libya's transitional process, in line with the discussions held in Paris, Palermo and in Abu Dhabi.” He further explained.
Ambassador Saliba confirmed that Malta was active in supporting the pivotal necessity to achieve normalisation and eventually stability and dialogue in Libya and to see an active role taken by the EU towards this path.
Asked about the concerns of the influx of migrants towards Europe, he said his country continues to monitor the situation closely in case the recent wave of violence leads to an increase in migration and to a reduction in the operations of the Libyan Coast Guard.
“Malta is well aware of the warnings that Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj had sounded concerning the possibility of a large number of irregular migrants crossing over to Europe in view of the ongoing military offensive on Tripoli. Malta will act according to the unfolding developments.” He replied.
Asked about fears of infiltration of ISIS terrorists with the migrants towards Europe, he confirmed that a comprehensive response to terrorism remains important and closer cooperation with Libya would be imperative to address the threat posed by terrorism.
“The EU stands ready to support Libya in its process towards stabilisation, at its request. All European countries must work collectively to prevent increasing security threats to Europe.” He concluded.
Warlord Khalifa Haftar launched a military offensive on Tripoli on April 04 in an attempt to seize power and topples UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and France, his attack was met with fierce resistance from Libyan Army forces under GNA and his armed groups continue to get bogged down in the southern parts of the capital, which according to military experts have become a quagmire for the aspiring dictator.