(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Martin Kobler, the UN envoy to Libya, called on the international community to support the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and to do what is necessary to prevent illegal arms trade to Libya.
Kobler addressed the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday and said there are “positive signs” regarding the management of Libya’s oil production and exports in addition to ensuring revenue from oil sales are going to the country’s central bank.
However, the North African country continues to be crippled by violence, corruption and lawlessness and overwhelmed by the refugee crisis, said Kobler.
The 2011 uprising that brought the downfall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi also left the country in a chaotic and unstable state. For months, the GNA has been working to establish its authority outside the western side of Libya. The GNA’s arrival to Tripoli in March was “a moment of hope for the establishment of the rule of law in the country,” he said.
In his address, Kobler noted that, to an extent, the political deadlock in Libya is caused by the House of Representatives’ (HoR) lack of support for the GNA.
“It is very important that the international community maintains cohesion in order to bring the Government of National Accord (GNA) to a stage where it can effectively combat the questions on the table,” Kobler said to reporters after speaking to the Human Rights Council.
“Libya is witnessing the unfolding of dangerous military developments,” said the UN representative referring to General Khalifa Haftar’s forceful takeover of Libya’s major oil fields and terminals.
Haftar, who is backed by the HOR, is fighting against brigades and armed groups in Benghazi who are refusing to succumb to his rule. He has also refused to cooperate with the GNA in efforts to unify the country and has challenged the UN deal intended to unify Libya.
Libya, which has a population of 6 million, has 26 million weapons, according to Kobler. He emphasized that every UN member state must uphold the arms embargo and not send weapons to any group in Libya.
Militias across Libya are engaged in “grave human rights abuses with impunity,” warned Kobler. The international community must stop fueling the human rights abuses and adhere to the arms embargo on Libya, he added. Kobler stressed that the abuses must be responded to urgently, and no group should be in possession of weapons.
“My position here is very clear. These weapons do not fall from the sky, they come via the sea, they come via land.”
Now that Libya has a unified state oil corporation and one central bank there is an increase in oil production, which is a sign the country is beginning to head in the right direction.
Libya’s Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO), a subsidiary of the National Oil Corporation, has increased its oil production to 261,000 barrels a day which is 50,000 barrels a day more than last week’s output, said spokesperson Omran al-Zwai on Monday.
“This is the lifeline for the Libyan people, that more money comes into the coffers of the central bank in order to improve the imports and to finance salaries and other basic needs and services for the population,” Kobler said.
In his address, Kobler also commented on the everyday life conditions of Libyans, “what should be a wealthy and developed country is increasingly struggling with providing basic services to its people… The continuing political and military instability is impacting heavily on the economy.”
The issue of women and youth was also raised by the UN envoy when he said “that on 8th of September the Presidency Council established a Women’s Support and Empowerment Unit.”
Kobler called on the Libyan authorities to involve and engage with “young people and women (who) together have a two thirds majority in Libya, however they still do not have a voice.”
“The multiple armed conflicts raging in Libya continue to directly impact the lives of civilians.”
Kobler also confirmed that in Benghazi over 100 families are stuck in Ganfouda, unable to flee the violence in the city. They are “facing constant bombing and shortages of food, medical care and electricity,” explained the UN representative.
From March to August, the UN reported that “287 civilian casualties, including 141 deaths and 146 injuries,” across Libya. Kobler explained that these are the statistics that were verified by the UN and that the actual numbers are much higher.
Libya needs to act soon and assign the responsibility of overseeing “justice issues, in the absence of an acting minister of justice” in order to keep the country from falling into further chaos, warned the UN envoy.
“Peace will only be sustainable if forged by the Libyans,” said Kobler. “National reconciliation has to start now.”