(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
During the ceasefire that General Khalifa Haftar’s forces announced on Saturday for Ganfouda, a neighbourhood in Benghazi, only 10 people left the besieged area, according to the Red Crescent.
Of the 10 who evacuated the besieged neighbourhood were seven women and children from two Libyan families, as well as three Bangladeshi workers, said Wahid Al-Zawi of the Libyan National Army and Toufik Al-Shwaihdi, a spokesperson for the Red Crescent.
The 10 evacuees were taken out of Ganfouda by a local brigade to a team from the Red Crescent who then transported the civilians to their relatives.
The announcement of the ceasefire was made on Friday by general Ahmed Al-Mismari, a spokesperson for the Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA).
Al-Mismari said that civilians will be given safe passage out of Ganfouda during a ceasefire that will take place on “Saturday from 10am until 4pm”.
“Media is welcome to be there to monitor, as well as NGOs and tribal leaders,” said a post on the LNA’s Twitter account.
In a statement released on Saturday, the UN’s special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler expressed his deep concerns for the civilians trapped in Ganfouda and has called on the opposing parties fighting in Ganfouda to enable the civilians to safely leave the besieged neighbourhood.
“Reports of shells being fired and civilians being prevented from leaving are extremely concerning,” said Kobler.
A group of Canadian-Libyan activists are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “speak out on the humanitarian and human rights crisis” taking place in Libya. The activist group is also calling for “an evacuation of civilians and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid.” The group said that the relatives of a Canadian family are “currently being held captive in Ganfouda” and they are urging Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to call for their safe release.
Early last week, a press briefing was released by the Free Ganfouda website about a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid that was expected to set sail for the suburb but was delayed after Haftar vowed to destroy any ship sent to Ganfouda “even if Canadian”.
There are over 100 families currently trapped in Ganfouda in addition to a number of foreign workers, according to human rights organizations.
“Time is running out for civilians in Ganfouda, who are being left to die trapped by the fighting. While bombs and shells continue to rain down on them, civilians are struggling to survive on rotten food and dirty water. And the sick and wounded must make do with dwindling supplies of expired medicines,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Mughrabi is urging “all parties (to) take feasible precautions to protect the lives of civilians caught up in the fighting in Ganfouda and other parts of Libya in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
“Indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks are prohibited by international law and every effort must be made to distinguish between military targets and civilians or civilian homes and buildings,” she added.
The military blockade of Ganfouda, which began in July 2014, has put the safety of many families at great risk.