Gulf Today

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

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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.

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People walk past Palestinia­n vendors at the old market in the West Bank city on Sunday.
Agence France-presse ↑ People walk past Palestinia­n vendors at the old market in the West Bank city on Sunday.

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