World, Middle East

Libya PM calls for 'safe corridors' into besieged city

Tobruk-based forces have kept eastern city of Derna under crippling siege for last three years

02.11.2017
Libya PM calls for 'safe corridors' into besieged city FILE PHOTO - DERNA, LIBYA

By Walid Abdullah

TRIPOLI, Libya

Fayez al-Sarraj, prime minister of Libya’s UN-backed unity government, has called on the UN to establish "safe corridors" into the besieged eastern city of Derna.

According to a Thursday statement released by al-Sarraj’s office, he made the appeal in a Wednesday phone call with UN special envoy Ghassan Salame, in which he briefed the latter on the city’s deteriorating humanitarian situation.

For the last three years, Derna has been kept under a crippling siege by forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, military commander for Libya’s Tobruk-based government.

Derna is currently held by the Mujahideen Shura Council, a politically independent local militia group that expelled the Daesh terrorist group from the city in 2015.

On Monday, at least 17 people were killed when unidentified aircraft struck several targets in Derna.

The strikes were soon followed by accusations that pro-Haftar forces had carried out the attack.

In his Wednesday phone call with Salame, al-Sarraj condemned what he described as the international community's tepid response to the ongoing suffering of Derna's civilian inhabitants.

He also called for the establishment by the UN of "safe corridors" into Derna to allow humanitarian organizations to access the city.

The prime minister further urged the UN envoy to follow up on earlier requests -- submitted to the UN Security Council -- to begin "urgent investigations" into Monday's deadly aerial bombardment.

Libya has been dogged by violence since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of longstanding President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

The ensuing power vacuum led to the emergence of several rival seats of government and a plethora of heavily-armed militia groups.

According to a report issued Wednesday by the UN mission in Libya, at least 23 civilians were killed in various clashes throughout the North African country -- including women and children -- in October alone.

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