The head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced today that all parties to the conflict in Benghazi have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian truce to evacuate civilians and retrieve the bodies of the dead.
The truce, which was facilitated by the Mission, and announced by UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leone, commenced at 7 a.m. local time this morning, 19 November, for a period of 12 hours, subject to extension by the parties, according to a statement.
This humanitarian truce is critical to giving the people of Benghazi, where fighting has been the fiercest, a much-needed reprieve from violence, the Mission explained.
As agreed with all parties, the Libyan Red Crescent will evacuate civilians from the two affected areas, retrieve the bodies of the dead and facilitate the removal of sewage from the affected areas.
Civilians will also have the opportunity to attend to the injured and restock food and other necessary supplies.
In the meantime, UNSMIL continues to urge all parties to fully abide by their commitments during the truce. Since 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, violence amongst armed groups has spread throughout the North African country causing a humanitarian crisis.
According to numbers provided by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), at least 106,420 people had fled their homes in October alone. Since May, a total of 393,400 people have been displaced.
Earlier in the summer there seemed to be steps in the right direction with the election on 25 June of a national Parliament, a move the UN Mission hoped would thrust Libya toward political resolution.
However earlier this month, Libya’s Supreme Court declared the national Parliament unconstitutional.
On 11 November, Fatou Bensouda, a Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned the UN Security Council about growing political instability in Libya. She said that the country is currently split with two governments vying for legitimacy.
Ms. Bensouda said a particularly worrisome aspect of the “deleterious” situation is the ongoing spate of assassinations in Benghazi, threats to media workers, human rights defenders and women in particular, as well as to prosecutors, judges and lawyers.