A ceasefire and the establishment of an agreement on transitional arrangements that fulfil the aspirations of the Libyan people remain the only sustainable options for a political solution to the crisis in the North African country, the United Nations political chief told the Security Council today.
“As we have said many times, a ceasefire tied to transitional arrangements which address the aspirations of the Libyan people is the only sustainable political solution to the crisis in Libya,” said B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, when he briefed the Council.
He said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy for Libya, Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib, have been making that point in all their discussions with key interlocutors around the world.
“It remains critical that the international community speak with one voice through the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy in order to bring about a political solution,” said Mr. Pascoe.
He said that opposition forces had made some marginal gains in the battlefield, but there had been no dramatic changes in the overall situation. “The frontlines remain in flux as opposition forces attempt to advance towards Tripoli, while Government forces target strategic cities and areas under opposition control. NATO operations continue, primarily against sites in and around Tripoli.”
Mr. Pascoe told the Council that both the National Transitional Council (NTC) and the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi had consistently maintained their stands during meetings with Mr. Khatib.
“Both sides are willing to talk, but they are still emphasizing maximum demands at this point and patience is clearly required before detailed discussion can begin,” said Mr. Pascoe.
On the humanitarian situation, Mr. Pascoe told the Council that the number of people who have fled Libya and remain outside the country since the beginning of the conflict in February is now estimated at 630,000, including some 100,000 Libyans. Another 200,000 Libyans have been internally displaced.
The number of those stranded at border points in Egypt, Tunisia and Niger had fallen to about 2,600 people, most of them third-country nationals, some of whom are asylum-seekers who cannot return to their homes. Additionally, an estimated 22,000 people, mostly African migrants, have arrived by boat in Italy and Malta. At least 1,400 died at sea while attempting to reach Europe.
The Tunisian Government has sought external assistance for Libyan refugees and local families hosting some of them, Mr. Pascoe told the Council, while the authorities in Libya had repeatedly complained about the shortages of medical supplies, including vaccines and equipment. Fuel shortages have hit Tripoli, he added.
“The approach of the holy month of Ramadan has added greater urgency to the provision of supplies and meeting of humanitarian needs. Both the Libyan Government and the National Transitional Council have requested the use of frozen assets to meet humanitarian needs,” said Mr. Pascoe, adding that the requests had been forwarded to the Council’s Sanctions Committee for consideration.
On post-conflict planning, Mr. Pascoe said that the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the issue, Ian Martin, is continuing preparatory work within the UN and with key partners.
“The UN system-wide pre-assessment process to develop possible scenarios and areas where United Nations or other international support may be appropriate, if requested, is nearing completion.
“As we have told the Council, early contingency planning is being undertaken by the [UN] Department of Peacekeeping Operations [DPKO] for military and police roles which the United Nations may be asked to perform following a ceasefire,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Khatib today in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, met with President Mohammad Ould Abdel Aziz, who chairs the African Union’s (AU) Ad-Hoc High Level Committee on the situation in Libya, and briefed him on his efforts to find a political settlement.
Mr. Khatib said that the Mauritanian leader had stressed the same desire for a solution that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Libyan people, as expressed by AU’s Ad-Hoc High Level Committee. The special envoy said that he and Mr. Abdel Aziz emphasized the need for continued consultations between the UN and the AU in their efforts to resolve the crisis through a political process.
Mr. Khatib also met with the Foreign Ministers of Mauritania and Mali to discuss cooperation between the UN and the AU.