UN boss: Foreign fighters still in Libya in violation of the ceasefire | Middle East News

Antonio Guterres calls for an end to the violations of the arms embargo and the withdrawal of all foreign fighters.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said foreign fighters and mercenaries remained in Libya in violation of a ceasefire agreement last year, calling for their withdrawal and an end to violations of the UN arms embargo.

In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres said on Friday that the smooth transfer of power in March to a new interim national unity government (GNU) “brings renewed hope for the reunification of the country and of its institutions and for a lasting peace ”. However, he said progress must continue on the political, economic and security fronts to allow the elections to take place at the end of this year.

Libya has been torn by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and ultimately split the oil-rich country between a UN-recognized government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east of the country. Each camp was supported by armed groups and foreign governments.

In April 2019, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and eastern-based forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and Russian mercenaries, launched an offensive in an attempt to capture Tripoli. The 14-month campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up military support for the UN-recognized government with Syrian troops and mercenaries.

An October 2020 ceasefire agreement that included a demand for all foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave Libya within 90 days led to an agreement on the new transitional government of national unity and scheduled elections for December 24.

The UN estimated in December 2020 that there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians. But at an informal council meeting in late April, speakers said there were more than 20,000, including 13,000 Syrians and 11,000 Sudanese, diplomats said.

‘No reduction of foreign troops’

Guterres said in the new report that although the ceasefire continues to exist, the UN political mission in Libya has received reports of fortifications and defensive positions being established in the center. of Libya on the key road between the strategic city of Sirte, gateway to the country. major oil fields and export terminals, and Jufra.

“Despite the commitments made by the parties, air cargo activities have reportedly continued with flights to various air bases in the western and eastern regions of Libya,” the secretary general said. “Reports indicate that there has been no reduction in the number of foreign fighters or their activities in central Libya.”

Guterres said the GNU must prioritize security sector reform, including recruiting senior civilian and military officials, producing a roadmap for the reunification of the Libyan army and combating the proliferation of armed groups.

β€œIt is vital to bring one of the largest uncontrolled stockpiles of arms and ammunition in the world under state control,” he said. “I reiterate my call on Member States and national Libyan actors to end violations of the arms embargo and facilitate the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from the country.”

Last month, the Security Council approved a resolution urging all foreign and mercenary forces to leave Libya and allowing a small UN team to monitor the ceasefire agreement. In an April 7 letter to the council, Guterres proposed an initial maximum of 60 monitors for staged deployment as part of the UN mission in the country.

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