UN mission warns that escalating violence in Libya might risk ‘all-out war’

TRIPOLI: The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned a series of airstrikes on targets in the city of Misrata amid an upsurge in fighting across the war-torn North African country, adding that any further escalation in hostilities could plunge the nation back into “all-out war.” In a statement, UNSMIL deplored airstrikes reportedly conducted by the Libyan Air Force against militants based in the western Libyan city, warning that “these and other attacks will only worsen the security situation and will not help bring an end to the fighting.” “UNSMIL appeals to all sides to work towards de-escalation, and calls on them to take the courageous steps to stop this cycle of violence which, if it continued, will lead the country to chaos and all-out war,” the statement cautioned.

The attacks, the latest spell of violence to rattle the beleaguered nation following the beginning of its civil war in 2011 which resulted in the ousting of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, come on the heels of last week’s militant aggression against an oil installation in Sidra which left numerous storage tanks ablaze and at least 20 soldiers dead.

At the same time, recent fighting in the neighbouring Nafusa mountains has left 170 people dead. In addition to the casualties, the fighting has also caused a humanitarian crisis with at least 120,000 people forced to flee their homes, resulting in consequent shortages in both food and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Benghazi, an upsurge in violence has seen 450 people killed since October as residents continue to face shortages in medical care. Moreover, upwards of 15,000 families – some 90,000 people – have been displaced.

In its statement, the Mission reminded those advocating military escalation that they were “actively creating obstacles to a consensual political solution” to the current Libyan crisis and underlined that their actions remained in violation of UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.