Antonio Guterres called for a violation of the arms embargo and the withdrawal of all foreign fighters.
UN chief Antonio Guterres says foreign fighters and mercenaries are in Libya because of violations of the ceasefire agreement last year, their withdrawal and an end to violations of the UN arms embargo.
In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres said Friday that the smooth transition of power to a new interim government (GNU) in March “brings new hope for the reunification of the country and its institutions and lasting peace.” However, he said progress on political, economic and security tracks would have to be continued to enable elections to take place later this year.
Chaos has erupted since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the longtime leader of the NATO-backed coup in 2011, and eventually divided the oil-rich country into a UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli, and the country’s eastern rival. Each side was supported by armed groups and foreign governments.
In April 2012, the Reconstruction Military Commander Khalifa Haftar, backed by Egyptian and UAE and Russian mercenary forces, and East-based forces launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. Following the break-up of the 14-month operation, Turkey has stepped up military support for a UN-approved government by the military and Syrian mercenaries.
The ceasefire agreement reached in October 2020, which included demands for all foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave Libya within 90 days, an agreement on a new national unity government and elections on 24 December.
The United Nations estimated in December 2020 that Libya had at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians. But speakers at an informal council meeting in late April said there were more than 20,000 people, including 13,000 Syrians and 11,000 Sudanese, according to diplomats.
‘Foreign troops not reduced’
Guterres said in a new report that while the ceasefire continues, the UN political mission in Libya has received reports of the establishment of forts and defensive positions in central Libya on the main road between the strategic city of Sirte, the country’s gateway. Key Oil Fields and Export Terminals and Jufra.
“Despite the commitment of the parties, aviation operations continue at various air bases in western and eastern Libya,” the secretary-general said. “Reports indicate that there has been no reduction in foreign fighters or their activities in central Libya.”
Guterres said the JNU must prioritize security sector reform, including meeting senior civilian and military recruits, creating a roadmap for the reintegration of the Libyan army and tackling the proliferation of armed groups.
“It is important to bring state control over one of the world’s uncontrolled weapons and ammunition stocks,” he said. “I urge member states and Libyan national actors to stop violating the arms embargo and to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from the country.”
Last month, the Security Council approved a resolution calling on all foreign troops and mercenaries to leave Libya and allow a small UN team to observe the ceasefire agreement. In a letter to the council in April, Guterres proposed an initial maximum of 60 monitors for phased deployment as part of a UN mission in the country.