IOM Libya Updated Situation Report Vol. 4/2014 (as of August 24th, 2014)
It has been another week where the city of Tripoli had to endure the continuation of the battle between different rival militias, leading to indiscriminate shelling of the airport and surrounding areas, which are mainly occupied by civilians. The increasing use of heavy artillery and Grad missiles have caused a high number of casualties, mainly of civilians hit by misguided rockets. During this week, also the Oea Compound in Janzour was hit by a Grad missile, which penetrated the wall of the UNSMIL finance office there. The impact caused major structural damage to the building, as well as to the adjacent building, blowing out doors and windows. It was reported that 10 Grad missiles were fired into the Janzour area, without causing any injuries to people.
On 18 August, unknown aircrafts carried out strikes in Tripoli during the night to destroy the bases of “islamist” militias, allegedly using advanced military aircrafts (Local Media). This was followed by two further airstrikes by unidentified warplanes early Saturday, targeting an army base, a warehouse, the Interior Ministry’s and Chief of Staff Buildings and several other “islamist” militia positions targets.
Reportedly Falah and Al Akwakh district were also hit by airstrikes. Initial reports stated that up to 15 fighters were killed and around 30 wounded (Local/ International Media).
On 20 August, UNSMIL Sitrep indicated, that travel to the West of Tripoli, to and from the Tunisian border is not recommended. There are many checkpoints to be found along the main roads and vehicles are being stopped and thoroughly checked, and if headed to the city, passengers are being questioned at length about their reasons for going to Tripoli (Internal source).
On 21 August, Egypt and Tunisia closed its airspace to flights coming from Libya’s Mitiga and Misrata airports due to security violations pertaining to these two airports, which almost completely cuts off Libya from international air travel.
On 22 August, national media reported that ten Sudanese were killed when a stray missile hit a house in Karimiya district in Tripoli, Libya, on Wednesday. It is the second incident in Tripoli with a stray missile causing Sudanese casualties in four days. The spokesman for the Committee for Sudanese Stranded in Libya, said that 15,000 Sudanese people live in Karimiya and in the Sunday market area, considering these the two biggest areas with Sudanese inhabitants in Tripoli. The siege on their districts makes it very difficult to survive.
Also on 22 August, local media in Libya reported that 22 Aug 2014 the Libyan Coastguard announced that a boat carrying 170 illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa was feared lost at sea off the capital,
Tripoli. "We are looking for 170 African passengers on a wooden boat that has foundered off the Guarakouzi area" some 60 kilometres (35 miles) east of Tripoli, a coastguard official told AFP on Friday. "A few miles off the coast, we found the remains of a wooden boat which had had some 200 migrants on board," he said. "We managed to save 16 people and recovered 15 bodies, but the search continues for some 170 people who disappeared at sea…," stressing that the Coastguard was lacking in resources and had only one patrol boat to search for the missing people. (Picture copyright: Reuters/Aimen Elsahli).
On Sunday, the Libyan Coastguard official updated the number of migrants that may have died to 250. "We believe there are still more than 250 bodies trapped underwater," coastguard official told a news agency. "When we went underwater we discovered that the boat is a lot bigger than we thought."
On 23 August, local media in Pakistan reported, that a special flight by Pakistan Airlines was sent to Tripoli and has brought back over 200 stranded Pakistanis from Libya on the day before. Despite the challenging situation in Libya, the Pakistan Mission is fully functional and providing all required assistance to thousands of Pakistani expatriates. The Pakistan Embassy in Tripoli has set up relief camps where over 1,700 Pakistanis are being accommodated and provided as much help as possible.
The media centre of operation “Libya Dawn” declared on 23 August that its (Misrata-led) forces took control of Tripoli International Airport after clashes with Zintan-led forces. Social media posted pictures purportedly showing “Libya Dawn” forces seizing planes parked on the airport’s tarmac. If confirmed, “Libya Dawn” achieved the main goal of its operation that it launched on 13 July: to oust the Zintan-led brigades from Tripoli International Airport.
On the same day (23 August), the spokesperson of the former General National Congress (GNC), Omar Hamidan, announced the GNC’s decision to temporarily resume sessions “to issue the required laws and take the necessary measures to overcome the current crisis in the country.” The decision comes, according to him, to put things in order until the hand-over of authority takes place in line with the Constitution. Hamidan also pointed at the “various violations” committed by the elected House of Representatives (HoR), on top of it the request for international intervention. The GNC decision to resume sessions likely further escalates the controversy over the HoR’s legitimacy as it appears to intend the running of a second parliament in parallel to the HoR (UNSMIL Sitrep).