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Report of the assessment mission on the impact of the Libyan crisis on the Sahel region, 7 to 23 December 2011 (S/2012/42)

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Letter dated 17 January 2012 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council

It will be recalled that during the Security Council luncheon that took place on 23 November 2011, I stated my intention to dispatch a mission to the Sahel region to assess the scope of the threat of the Libyan crisis in the region and the national, regional and wider international capacities to respond to those challenges. I also advised that when I received the report of the mission, I would arrange to present it to the Council. In this regard, I have the honour to transmit the report that the mission submitted to me upon completion of its work.

I should be grateful if you would bring the present letter and the attached report to the attention of the members of the Security Council.

(Signed) BAN Ki-moon

I. Introduction

  1. Libya is located in the north-eastern part of the African continent and is considered both an Arab and an African country. Through the years, and as a result of its oil wealth and infrastructure development and the deliberate policies of Libya’s late leader, Muammar al-Qadhafi, Libya became a magnet for many impoverished sub-Saharan Africans who fled their countries either as a result of conflict or difficult living conditions and migrated to Libya seeking “greener pastures”. Others were absorbed into the Libyan army as regular officers and, reportedly, as mercenaries, and were allegedly given Libyan citizenship. It is reported that some of those individuals were used by the security apparatus of the regime to brutally and violently suppress the population during the crisis and were thus much hated by the population.

  2. The crisis in Libya started out with peaceful demonstrations on 15 February 2011 but quickly turned into an internal conflict after street protests were violently suppressed by the Government. The international community, including the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and the League of Arab States launched several diplomatic initiatives in a bid to bring the crisis to a quick end. Those efforts were unsuccessful in preventing an escalation of the crisis, bringing Libya to the verge of a major humanitarian catastrophe, especially in the eastern parts of the country.

  3. Against this backdrop, the Security Council adopted resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) which, inter alia, authorized the use of “all necessary measures” to protect the civilian population. Following months of intense clashes, the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi came to a violent end with his killing in Sirte on 20 October 2011.

  4. While the impact of the crisis reverberated across the world, such neighbouring countries as Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Tunisia bore the brunt of the challenges that emerged as a result of the crisis. In a relatively short period of time, the Governments of these countries, especially those in the Sahel region, had to contend with the influx of hundreds of thousands of traumatized and impoverished returnees as well as the inflow of unspecified and unquantifiable numbers of arms and ammunition from the Libyan arsenal. Although the volume and the impact of the returnee population differs from one country to the other, the influx clearly has the potential to further exacerbate an already precarious and tenuous situation. In addition, these countries are directly threatened by an impending food security and nutrition crisis that could further exacerbate and negatively affect the political, social and economic situation in the region.