Libya: UN envoy calls for end to fighting in Benghazi, urges political solution to crisis
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Libya, Bernardino León, has condemned the escalating hostilities in the country's eastern city of Benghazi and the heavy toll being felt by the area's civilians, the United Nations mission in the country confirmed today.
In a press release issued earlier this morning, Mr. León, who also heads the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), deplored the repeated shelling of residential areas in the city while reiterating his belief that “there can be no military solution to the conflict.”
The fighting in Libya has provoked a growing displacement crisis within the country with the number of people displaced almost doubling from an estimated 230,000 last September to more than 434,000, according to the UN's refugee agency.
The largest bloc of internally displaced, some 105,000 people, is located in Benghazi, where the UN has been working with the municipality, as well as local and international NGOs to distribute items to some 6,000 of the most vulnerable IDPs between March and June.
Meanwhile, the violence is also adding to the mounting list of casualties. This week alone, noted UNSMIL, at least 10 fatalities were reported among civilians in Benghazi including a number of children.
“Coming at a time of successful reconciliation and ceasefire efforts at different localities in the country, and as the political dialogue among Libyan stakeholders was making major progress, it is high time for Benghazi which has suffered for too long to enjoy peace,” the UNSMIL press release continued.
“A vast majority of the Libyan people want an immediate end to the conflict. The Special Representative reiterates his conviction that a political agreement through dialogue is the best hope for achieving peace across Libya.”
Mr. León also reminded all parties that attacks against civilians were prohibited under international humanitarian law and could constitute war crimes. To that point, he called on all parties “to cease immediately all indiscriminate attacks.”