The United Nations on Monday launched a $115 million appeal to assist tens of thousands of Libyan civilians, warning that foreign governments were not coming good on pledges to stay out of the country’s brutal civil war.
Speaking with reporters in New York, Yacoub El Hillo, the UN’s resident and humanitarian coordinator for Libya, called for a cash injection to get food, medicine and other forms of support to the most vulnerable of the 900,000 Libyans who need handouts.
“We are witnessing a protracted conflict severely impacting civilians in all parts of the country on a scale that Libya has never seen before,” El Hillo told journalists via a video connection from Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
“Tens of thousands of Libyans, in addition to an increasing number of vulnerable migrants and refugees, continue to endure appalling hardship and suffering.”
According to El Hillo, foreign governments have not come good on pledges made in Berlin last month to halt arms supplies to armed Libyan groups, fuelling a conflict that rages between a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, in the west, and a rival rebel movement in the east.
“The increasing use of explosive weapons has resulted in unnecessary loss of life, displacement, destruction, and damage to vital civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools,” said El Hillo.
Since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in the east supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and others and another in the capital Tripoli, in the west, which enjoys UN recognition.
“This is the country that has the world's largest uncontrolled ammunition stockpile ever,” said El Hillo.
“It is estimated that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of uncontrolled munitions across Libya. And it is also the world's largest theater for the use of drone technology.”
Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in the east, launched an offensive to take Tripoli last April, which led to chaos and bloodshed but stalled on the outskirts of the city.