Di Maio: We must stop the war in Libya to prevent new refugee crisis

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

ROME – Europe will face a new refugee crisis if the war in Libya did not stop, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio warned on Sunday.

“There are 700,000 refugees in Libya.  Many of them do not want to go to Europe as long as they can live there in peace and have a prospect,” Di Maio  said during an interview with German newspaper Bild.

“But can you imagine what would happen if street fighting broke out in Tripoli?,” he said before adding, “For me it is clear: we must stop this war. Otherwise we will have a new refugee crisis.”

“Stopping the war is also the only way to take fertile ground away from terrorism,” said the top Italian diplomat.

Since April last year, the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, has been battling militias allied with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). These militias have been the main source of chaos and instability in the capital since the overthrow of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Germany organized a peace conference on Libya in Berlin on January 19 in a bid to kick-start political dialogue in the North African country. It was attended by global powers and regional stakeholders who called for a ceasefire and pledged to uphold the UN arms embargo.

However, fighting resumed soon after the Berlin meeting ended, dashing hopes of a ceasefire. The UN has said “several” countries that participated in the conference subsequently shipped foreign fighters, advanced weapons and armored vehicles to Libyan groups.


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