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UN: Humanitarian situation in Libya unchanged since Berlin conference

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

RIYADH – The humanitarian situation in Libya has not improved since the Berlin conference in January because hostilities have not stopped, Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), told Sputnik on the sidelines of the 2nd Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum.

When asked whether anything has changed with regards to the humanitarian situation after the Berlin Conference, Grandi said, “Unfortunately not, because fundamentally there has been no change in the military situation.”

According to the UNCHR chief, his agency and the International Organization for Migration are working with migrants and refugees stranded in Libya and help the most vulnerable to return home or, if this is impossible, go to other countries.

“Now, that work is very difficult under almost normal circumstances. Imagine in a war zone, it’s very risky. We are continuously interrupted,” Grandi said.

The official stressed that the armed groups in Libya were “very unpredictable” and that it was sometimes not clear who is in control of a certain area. Despite describing the situation as “not very easy” and “very risky,” Grandi said that the agency would stay in the area until it was possible to resume its operations.

In this regard, he went on to say that the implementation of the commitments agreed at the Berlin conference would give the UN “much more space to operate, and to bring more help to the people,” who are often exploited by traffickers, mistreated, beaten and tortured.

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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