Libya

United Nations Support Mission in Libya - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/41) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

  1. The present report, submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2486 (2019), covers political, security-related and economic developments in Libya, provides an overview of the human rights and humanitarian situation and outlines the activities of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) since the issuance of my previous report on 26 August 2019 (S/2019/682).

II. Political, security-related and economic developments

  1. The hostilities triggered by the offensive to seize Tripoli on 4 April 2019 by forces under the Libyan National Army Commander, General Khalifa Haftar, have escalated and widened geographically. There have been clashes between forces loyal to the Government of National Accord and General Haftar’s Libyan National Army in Gharyan and Tarhunah and around Sirte and Jufrah. Divisions caused by the conflict have arisen in other locations, including in Murzuq, in southern Libya.

  2. The use of air power and precision technology, including precision-guided artillery, has become a dominant feature of an otherwise low-intensity conflict. There are indications that drone infrastructure and operations were facilitated by external actors operating within Libya. Multiple incidents of precision air strikes conducted by unknown aircraft have occurred, in apparent violation of the United Nations arms embargo. In addition, there have been persistent reports of the growing involvement of foreign mercenaries providing both sides with enhanced combat capabilities.

  3. Since the outbreak of the conflict, on 4 April, the country has suffered continued civilian fatalities, with 284 persons killed and 363 injured. More than 140,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes. My Special Representative for Libya has continued to engage with a wide range of national, regional and international actors to reach an agreement on the cessation of hostilities and resume intra-Libyan political talks under the auspices of the United Nations. In its resolution 2486 (2019) of 12 September 2019, the Security Council extended the Mission’s mandate and requested the Mission to support a possible ceasefire.

  4. On 31 October, the Minister of Education resigned in disagreement with a decision to divide the Ministry into two separate ministries, for general and higher education. Days earlier, the Ministry had cancelled salary payments to more than 150,000 persons on its payroll for lacking the requisite paperwork and ordered administrative investigations of some 800 staff members. The Libyan Audit Bureau suspended the decision, citing technical reasons.

  5. On 27 November, the Government of National Accord and Turkey concluded two memorandums of understanding on delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean and on security cooperation. In a letter dated 26 December 2019 from the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations, an explanatory note was provided on the memorandum of understanding on delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas. On 2 January 2020, the parliament of Turkey approved a motion authorizing the Government of Turkey, for a period of one year, to deploy Turkish military forces to Libya, if so requested by the Government of National Accord. The Government of National Accord has reportedly requested the deployment of troops from the Government of Turkey.

  6. The memorandum of understanding between the Governments of Libya and Turkey on delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean was objected to by Cyprus, Egypt and Greece in letters dated 5 December, 16 December and 9 December, respectively. On 31 December, the League of Arab States (LAS) passed a resolution in which it stressed its rejection of external interference and the need to prevent such interference, which contributes to facilitating the transfer of foreign extremist fighters and terrorists to Libya. On 4 January, a group of members of the House of Representatives based in Tobruk declared the memorandums of understanding illegal, while another group of members of the House of Representatives based in Tripoli had previously endorsed them.

  7. On 12 December, General Haftar announced a “zero hour” ground and aerial offensive aimed at capturing Tripoli, which prompted a general mobilization of forces supportive of the Government of National Accord. The offensive and mobilization resulted in intensified clashes between the Libyan National Army and the Government of National Accord and an escalation in air activity, but did not lead to significant territorial gains by either side in the Tripoli area. However, on 6 January 2020, Libyan National Army forces took control of Sirte, including its airbase and seaport, from forces of the Government of National Accord.

  8. On 8 January 2020, the Presidents of the Russian Federation and Turkey issued a joint statement (S/2020/31, annex) calling upon all parties in Libya to stop hostilities as of 00.00 hours on 12 January, declare a sustainable ceasefire and immediately come together around a negotiating table. They expressed support for the Berlin Process and stressed the need to involve Libyan parties and neighbouring countries. Separately, the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army agreed conditionally to the ceasefire on 11 January, while both claimed that violations had been committed after the ceasefire entered into force. On 13 January, the Prime Minister, Faiez Serraj, participated in talks in Moscow with General Haftar to formalize the cessation of hostilities under the auspices of the Russian Federation and Turkey. While Mr. Serraj reportedly signed a draft joint ceasefire agreement, General Haftar has not signed it.