UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized some UN member states Wednesday for violating a UN-imposed arms embargo on Libya.
“It is particularly frustrating to me that the Security Council has declared an arms embargo, has asked for a ceasefire several times. Nobody respects it from the ground,” Guterres said at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the Villa Madama government guest house in Rome.
“We have several member states providing weapons, every single week, to both sides in the conflict,” Guterres said.
He described the situation in Libya as a cancer spreading instability and conflicts in several parts of Africa, especially the Sahel region.
Conte acknowledged that the battle against terrorism could not be won in the Sahel region before achieving peace and stability in Libya.
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
The Sahel region, an arid area on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert, has witnessed unprecedented levels of violence since 2015, with militant groups seeking to extend their influence across West Africa.
Between November 2018 and March 2019, the rise in civilian victims varied from 300% up to 7,000% in some Sahel countries compared to the same period in the previous year, according to figures by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita released at the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum held in New York on Sept. 25.
The statistics show that in the first six months of this year, more than 200 terrorist attacks occurred on the continent, resulting in over 5,000 victims including security personnel and civilians.
Analysts attribute the proliferation of terrorist groups in the Sahel region to infighting between the different warlords as well as religious extremism, perceived invasion and control of territory.
Reporting by Baris Seckin in Rome
Writing by Gozde Bayar