(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Sources inside Ganfouda, a suburb in Benghazi, have informed the Libyan Gazette that they have access to the coast but passage through the sea is being blocked. Shockingly, residents are claiming that it is not Haftar’s local military that is cutting off sea evacuations, rather, the ships blocking civilians from fleeing appear to be foreign. Residents believe they are NATO or French military ships. The Libyan Gazette could not independently confirm this information.
While the UN Special Representative to Libya Martin Kobler, just yesterday at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council said that the UN supported evacuation agreements, there are many questions as to what that really means, especially when UN member states are aligning and colluding with Haftar’s forces in keeping Ganfouda families captive.
For months, Ganfouda has been under siege by Haftar and foreign forces. Regular air strikes have killed over 30 civilians including children, women and foreign workers. This week, unconfirmed information on social media by residents has alleged that the United Arab Emirates has now joined Haftar’s efforts with UAE drones striking Ganfouda on September 24th.
Ganfouda has become a humanitarian crisis. Sources have also informed the Libyan Gazette that electricity has been cut off for weeks. Families and foreign workers have been accessing water from wells with electrical pumps, but without electricity they are now dependent on pulley systems to reach the deep waters in the wells.
During the United Nations Human Rights Council, Kobler confirmed that more than 100 families from Ganfouda are currently trapped in areas of fighting “and are facing constant bombing and shortages of food, medical care and electricity.”
He also stated that “UNSMIL has sought to arrange a ceasefire and is supporting local mediation efforts that would allow civilians wishing to leave to do so. However, the warring parties have not agreed on the modalities for ensuring a safe evacuation.”
Nonetheless, the evacuation of civilians should not be left to the mercy of parties involved in the armed conflict, especially those, including militias aligned with Haftar, who have been accused of war crimes in the area by Kobler himself.
The situation in Ganfouda remains unclear as to which foreign states are involved in keeping these families captive and blocking emergency aid from entering the area. It is the responsibility of the United Nations, NATO, the Red Cross, and other international bodies to immediately force a ceasefire in order to evacuate these families to the capital Tripoli.