Libya welcomes UN decision to deploy cease-fire monitors
Monitors would arrive in an ‘incremental deployment.’ Council also urges all foreign forces, mercenaries to get out of country, as was supposed to happen months ago
Libya’s transitional government welcomed a UN Security Council decision to deploy international monitors to watch over a nearly six-month-old cease-fire in the conflict-stricken country.
The Government of National Unity also urged the council to help get mercenaries out of the oil-rich country, as it heads toward December elections ater a decade of fighting and upheaval.
The UN Security Council unanimously approved Secretary-generalantonioguterres’recentproposal for up to 60 monitors to join an existing political mission in Libya.
The monitors would arrive in an “incremental deployment... once conditions allow,” according to the council’s British-drated resolution.
The council also urges all foreign forces and mercenaries to get out of the country, as was supposed to happen months ago.
The vote, announced on Friday, was conducted by email, due to the coronavirus pandemic; the results were announced at a brief virtual meeting.
The interim government, which took power last month, expressed its willingness to facilitate the work of the U.N. monitors.
It also said it would would provide “all financial and logistic” capabilities to the country’s elections authority to hold a “fair and transparent” vote on Dec. 24.
Libya has been plagued by corruption and turmoil since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Qadhafi in 2011.
In recent years, the country was split between a U.n.-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the country’s east.
Each side was backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
The U.N. estimated in December there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians.
In April 2019, east-based military commander Khalifa Hiter and his forces launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli.
His 14-month-long campaign collapsed ater Turkey stepped up their military support of the U.n.-backed government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.
The cease-fire agreement, reached in October, called for the foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave within three months. No progress was made in that regard.
The cease-fire deal has dramatically reduced civilian casualties, but the U.N. has continued to document killings, forced disappearances, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, hate crimes and atacks against activists and human rights defenders in Libya, U.N. special envoy Jan Kubis told the council last month.
Meanwhile, Libya on Saturday launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign for the general population in Tripoli, with the elderly and healthcare workers given priority in the conflict-hit North African nation.
Those over 70 would get the Astrazeneca jab while the Russian Sputnik V vaccine would be administered to medical personnel and those aged 50-60, the National Centre for Disease Control said.
NCDC head Badreddine al-najjar told AFP the vaccines would be distributed across Libya “in the coming days,” adding that China’s Sinovac jab would also be available.
Libya has so far received 400,000 doses, including 200,000 Sputnik V shots, 57,600 Astrazeneca jabs and 150,000 from Turkey thought to be China’s Sinovac.
The Astrazeneca doses were delivered through the Covax programme for lower and middle income countries.
The country is struggling to emerge from decades of violence and political rivalries following its descent into chaos in the atermath of the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Although rich in oil, the economy has been hit hard and the situation was further compounded by thepandemicwithnearly1,000casesregisteredper day in recent weeks. Since the pandemic emerged last year, there have been 171,131 confirmed Covid cases in Libya, including 2,882 deaths, out of a population of seven million, officials say.
On Saturday, dozens of men and women wore face masks and sat on chairs which were spread out to ensure physical distancing in the courtyard of a vaccination centre in Tripoli as they waited to get a jab.