IS poses 'terrifying threat' to Libya, UN warns

IS poses 'terrifying threat' to Libya, UN warns
The Islamic State group's growing presence in Libya is a huge threat to the future of the country and the stability of its southern neighbours, Ban Ki-moon has said.
2 min read
05 March, 2016
Libyan militias are attempting to win back territory from IS [AFP]

Libya, and the stability of the whole Sahel region, is at risk of the "terrifying threat" posed by the Islamic State group, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned.

But he warned international powers not to "stoke the fires of conflict" in the country.

Ban left Mauritania on Saturday and headed to Algeria as part of a tour of West and North Africa and warned about the future of war-torn Libya being in peril.

While meeting Mauritanian leaders, including President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Prime Minister Yahya Ould Hademine, in the capital Nouakchott on Friday he said he was "deeply concerned about the situation in Libya".

Chaos has engulfed Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed rebels ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The country was thrown into turmoil as militias took control of the Libya and regional powerbases broke away from central rule.

Now, even the Libyan government has been split in two, with administrations in Tripoli and Tobruk both claiming control of the country.

The rival administrations are now being urged to sign up to a UN-brokered national unity government to help restore stability as the threat from armed exremists grows.

Libya's future is at stake... the reverberations echo far.
- UN chief, Ban Ki-moon

The Islamic State group have exploited the power vacuum, making gains along the oil-rich coastal regions and triggering concern among Western nations over the extremist group's control of territory just 300 kilometres (185 miles) from Europe.

"There are alarming reports of widespread human rights violations, including serious abuses that may amount to war crimes," Ban said in his comments Friday.

"All those with influence must use it to calm the situation and stop the fighting. It is utterly irresponsible for any outside player to stoke the fires," he added.

Ban said that his special representative Martin Kobler "is facilitating talks on a national unity government" as "we face the terrifying scourge of Daesh [IS] expanding in Libya and beyond its borders."

Delays would only worsen the dire humanitarian needs, he warned, adding that "Libya's future is at stake" and "the reverberations echo far".

Success in stabilising Libya would also benefit the whole Sahel region and "our world" in general, he added.