Libya: ICRC warns of 'desperate' situation as fighting continues

Constant fighting and the destruction of infrastructure has created 'severe protracted crisis' in Libya, says Red Cross.

    A member of the security forces stands next to his armored vehicle near the headquarters of the National Oil Company after an attack by gunmen in Tripoli [Mohamed Ben Khalifa/The Associated Press]
    A member of the security forces stands next to his armored vehicle near the headquarters of the National Oil Company after an attack by gunmen in Tripoli [Mohamed Ben Khalifa/The Associated Press]

    The International Committee of the Red Cross has called the deteriorating situation in Libya as desperate, citing constant fighting, the collapse of the economy, and the destruction of basic infrastructure.

    In a series of tweets, the ICRC said these factors have caused a "severe protracted crisis" that has led to the increased vulnerability of hundreds of thousands of Libyans.

    "Collapsed economy and infrastructure has made life impossible in Libya," the ICRC tweeted.

    "Seven years of war in Libya has driven over 500,000 people to flee their homes," the organisation continued.

    "For Libyans trying to return home, there's not always much to return to. Houses, schools are often destroyed completely."

    The group also cited the sabotaging of health facilities, water and electricity supplies, as well as the dangers of unexploded remnants.

    Fighting in Tripoli resumes

    As one of the few humanitarian organisations active in Libya, the ICRC has worked on distributing food and aid to internally displaced people across the country, which has been gripped by tribal and factional fighting nearly seven years after the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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    The existence of two rival legislatures - the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the House of Representatives (HOR) based in eastern city of Tobruk - each with its own central bank and national oil company - highlights another challenge in the country's plight to enact the necessary reforms and, ultimately, hold elections.

    On September 10, armed men stormed the headquarters of Libya's National Oil Company in Tripoli, engaging guards in a deadly gun battle that left at least four dead, including two National Oil Company employees.

    Last month, rival armed groups clashed in the capital Tripoli, resulting in dozens of people being killed.

    The fighting was initiated by the Seventh Brigade, an armed group based in Tarhouna, 65km southeast of the capital, which launched a surprise offensive against rival militias and went on to seize control of the capital's only functioning airport, Mitiga.

    At least 63 people were killed and 159 others - mostly civilians - were wounded.

    A state of emergency was declared on September 2, before a UN-backed ceasefire was reached two days later.

    However, fighting has since ensued and nine people including two civilians were killed on Thursday in the capital's southern outskirts, according to emergency services spokesperson Osama Ali.

    Thirteen others, including four civilians, were also wounded.

    Last week the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, had already reported 14 ceasefire violations.

    The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Thursday issued an appeal on Twitter urging the armed groups to abide by the ceasefire.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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