The Security Council was briefed today on the latest events in Libya by the United Nations political chief amid mounting concern over the fighting between Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s forces and opponents seeking his ouster.
Over the weekend the Arab League requested that the Council impose a no-fly zone against Mr. Qadhafi’s air force, which has been pounding cities held by his opponents, according to media reports, but today’s Council session met in closed consultations – including the briefing by Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe – and no details were officially released.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Libya, former Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Elah al-Khatib, arrived in Tripoli, the capital, and in a meeting with Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa reiterated the calls by Mr. Ban and the Council for an immediate end to the violence.
Mr. Khatib called for cooperation from the authorities on human rights and humanitarian concerns and was assured by senior Libyan officials that the Government would fully cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry recently authorized by the UN Human Rights Council. He urged the Government to allow unfettered access for all relevant UN agencies to assist the Libyan people and alleviate the suffering of those affected.
Mr. Khatib’s team will assess the situation on the ground and “undertake broad consultations with Libyan authorities on the immediate humanitarian, political and security situation,” Mr. Ban said last Friday, stressing that he has instructed the envoy to convey “in no uncertain terms” the concerns of the UN and the international community as expressed in Security Council resolutions.
In a unanimously adopted resolution the Council last month imposed sanctions against the Libyan authorities, placing an arms embargo on the country and freezing the assets of its leaders, while referring the ongoing violent repression of civilian demonstrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo subsequently announced that he is opening an investigation into Mr. Qadhafi, some of his sons and members of his inner circle for crimes against humanity in repressing peaceful protesters in violence that has claimed hundreds or even thousands of lives, according to media reports. Mr. Ban has said Mr. Qadhafi lost his legitimacy when he declared war on his people.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, arrived in Tripoli over the weekend and has met with authorities to discuss access for humanitarian aid workers throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands of refugees, mainly migrant workers, have already fled across the borders into Tunisia and Egypt.
“The Government has informed Mr. Khalikov that his mission would be granted access to locations outside Tripoli during his visit, including to areas of recent fighting,” spokesperson Farhan Haq told a news briefing in New York.
“The Humanitarian Coordinator’s team has observed that Tripoli appears calm, with shops being open and people moving freely in the city. But it has also observed a large number of migrant workers forming long lines outside airport terminals and in makeshift camps outside the airport,” he said.
Mr. Khalikov briefed Mr. Khatib about his talks and the field visits he has so far made.