The United Nations on Sunday warned warring factions in Libya against attacking civilian areas, more than a week after a warlord started a major offensive to capture the capital Tripoli from a rival government backed by the UN.
The warning by the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) comes hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 121 people had been killed and 561 others injured in the fighting.
‘UNSMIL warns that the bombing of schools, hospitals, ambulances and civilian areas is strictly prohibited by International Humanitarian Law,’ the mission tweeted.
The mission said it would report the violations to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.
On Saturday, the WHO also reported eight different attacks on medical workers and their vehicles since April 4, when Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), ordered his forces to seize Tripoli.
The UN health agency earlier reported an ambulance driver and two medical doctors had been killed in the violence.
Haftar had met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi in Cairo, an Egyptian official said Sunday.
‘They discussed the latest developments in Libya,’ Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi added, without giving details.
Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are considered main allies of Haftar.
His onslaught on Tripoli has raised global fears of a worsening conflict in oil-rich Libya, which has experienced chaos since long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi was ousted in a 2011 NATO-backed revolt.
Libya has at least two competing administrations: one based in Tripoli led by Fayez Serraj and backed by the UN, and the other in the eastern city of Tobruk, which is allied with Haftar.
The 75-year-old general has shrugged off calls to halt his offensive on Tripoli, where thousands of people have been displaced as a result of the battles.
The UN children's fund UNICEF has appealed for 4.7 million dollars to provide humanitarian assistance for people in embattled western Libya, including Tripoli.
The agency said that the money was needed to address life-saving needs of affected children and their families in the conflict areas there.
Several Western powers have pushed for Tripoli de-escalation. Italy, Libya's former colonial power, is expected on Monday to host two diplomatic meetings in Rome on the Libyan crisis, Italian media reported.
One meeting will be with Ahmed Maitig, a deputy premier in the Serraj government, while the second will be with Qatari Foreign Minister, whose country is an ally of that Tripoli-based government, according to the reports.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte this week warned that the situation in Libya is ‘extremely fragile’ and said he had been in contact with both Haftar and Serraj.
Since 2014, Haftar has expanded his forces' foothold in Libya, portraying his campaign as a ‘war on terrorists.’ His opponents accuse him of seeking to establish a military dictatorship and crushing dissent in the country.
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