Europe calls for humanitarian truce in Libya amid 'intensifying Haftar attacks'
Foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy joined the EU’s top diplomat to echo calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire in the war-torn country.
“We want to unite our voices to those of the U.N. Secretary-General (Antonio) Guterres and his Acting Special Representative for Libya, Stephanie Turco Williams, in their call for a humanitarian truce in Libya,” the statement said.
“We call on all the Libyan actors to get inspired by the spirit of the Holy Ramadan, engage in resuming talks for a genuine ceasefire,” said the statement, signed by the EU’s Josep Borrell, France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian, Italy’s Luigi di Maio and Heiko Maas of Germany, Reuters reported.
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The statement came as rogue General Khalifa Haftar forces on Saturday night intensified bombing of civilian homes in areas south of the capital Tripoli.
“The Haftar militia continues its frequent shelling of civilian homes in the Ain Zara area, south of Tripoli,” according to reports by Government of National Accord-linked media.
The Tripoli-based health ministry said three civilians were killed and three African migrant workers were wounded in Friday’s attack on the neighbourhood of Ain Zara.
The offensive on Tripoli by forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar has only escalated over the past weeks, despite a chorus of calls for a ceasefire so the war-torn country’s weak health system can respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has renewed his pleas for a ceasefire as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began on Friday.
The UN's acting special envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams, raised the alarm at a press conference on Thursday about the "horrible, intense shelling" of Tripoli’s densely populated neighborhoods. While attacks escalate, a round-the-clock curfew to slow the spread of coronavirus, has trapped many inside their homes.
The violence has been described as some of the worst since the country slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The pandemic may have grounded flights and closed borders around the world, but that has not stopped foreign backers on both sides of Libya’s conflict from sending weapons and mercenaries into the country via cargo flights and vessels, said the UN official.
"Libya has become an experimental field for all kinds of new weapon systems," Williams said.
Haftar receives fighter jets and drones from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Russia has also deployed trained mercenaries in Libya through a private security contractor, the Wagner Group, to boost Haftar’s assault.