The United Nations condemned yesterday the obstruction of its flights into conflict-hit Libya by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, warning of “severe consequences” to its humanitarian efforts.
The UN “regrets that its regular flights, which transport its staff to and from Libya, are not granted permission by the LNA (Haftar’s self-proclaimed army) to land in Libya,” the UN mission in the country, UNSMIL, said in a statement.
UNSMIL, the majority of whose staff are based in Tunis, added that “this practice has been repeated on several occasions in the past weeks”. Mitiga airport, the only functioning airport in the capital Tripoli, has been regularly closed due to strikes blamed by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) on pro-Haftar forces.
Jean Alam, UNSMIL spokesman, said that the agency was “not receiving security assurances from the LNA for landing of aircraft in western Libya”. The UN said it was “very concerned that preventing its flights from travelling in and out of Libya will severely hinder” its work, in particular to “provide the much-needed humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable” civilians.
Libya, Africa’s most oil-rich nation, has been mired in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Pro-Haftar forces have faced off with GNA troops at the gates of Tripoli since the eastern Libya-based strongman launched an offensive in April last year to seize the capital, the seat of the GNA.
A fragile ceasefire was established on January 12 and at an international summit in Berlin a week later, world leaders agreed to end all foreign interference in Libya and to uphold a weapons embargo. But there are still near-daily clashes near Tripoli and arms continue to flow into the country.
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