At Doha summit, Ban underscores importance of united global action on Libya

13 April 2011
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) at an international conference in London on 29 March 2011on the situation in Libya

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the vital need for united global action to tackle the ongoing crisis in Libya, where fighting between pro- and anti-Government forces rages on and the humanitarian situation is worsening, as well as to assist with the recovery once the conflict has ended.

“It is critical that the international community act in concert, that we speak with one voice, and that we continue to work in common cause on behalf of the Libyan people,” Mr. Ban told the meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya, which met today in Doha, Qatar.

“Throughout the Libyan crisis, our paramount objective has been clear: to protect civilians from violence perpetrated by their own government.”

The Secretary-General briefed delegates on the efforts carried out by the United Nations in recent days, including the visit by his Special Envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib to Libya, as well as his telephone conversation with Libyan Prime Minister Al-Mahmoudi yesterday.

Despite these efforts, the fighting continues between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi and rebels seeking his ouster, he said, noting that even the most optimistic observers foresee a protracted period of instability before sustainable peace is restored.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation continues to worsen. The UN estimates that some 490,000 people have fled the country since what started out as protests against Mr. Qadhafi’s rule turned into bloody conflict in the North African nation earlier this year. Roughly 330,000 people have also been internally displaced.

“Under our worst-case scenario, as many as 3.6 million people could eventually require humanitarian assistance,” he warned. “Clearly, we must mobilize all means at our disposal, including military, to get aid to those who need it.”

Mr. Ban urged generous support for the $310 million flash appeal for Libya, which is so far only 39 per cent funded.

“Libya will require our united efforts in peacemaking, peacebuilding and reconstruction once a ceasefire has been agreed,” he added, noting that early planning and preparation are necessary.

In that regard, he has initiated consultations with the heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes to examine possible contingencies as well as options for helping Libya along the path of political, economic and social recovery.

Central to this planning will be issues of political dialogue, institution-building, electoral assistance, constitution drafting, security sector reform, economic development and job creation, he pointed out. “Your support will be invaluable, both financial and in terms of expertise.”

Tomorrow Mr. Ban will be in Cairo, Egypt, where he will co-chair – along with Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States – a meeting of regional organizations focused on ensuring continued coordination of the international response to the crisis in Libya.

In a related development, a UN expert committee on the rights of migrant workers voiced deep concern today about the victimization of this vulnerable group of people and their families in Libya, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa.

A large number of the almost half a million people that have fled Libya in the wake of the conflict have been third country nationals.

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families also cited the “dangerous interception of migrants at sea and at inland borders” as worrying.

“We are deeply concerned about the recurrence of violations of the right to life, acts of violence, including sexual violence as well as acts of discrimination and arbitrary detentions victimizing migrant workers, particularly sub-Saharan Africans, and their families in Libya,” the experts stated in a news release.

They called on the international community to provide assistance, especially economic and technical, to migrant workers and their families and to take all necessary measures to ensure that those who have fled Libya are treated with respect and in conformity with international human rights standards and international humanitarian law.


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