The continued presence of mercenaries and foreign fighters in Libya remains a serious threat to the country, UN experts said in a confidential report on Wednesday. They added that fewer violations of the arms embargo on Libya have occurred this year, compared with 2020.
Nonetheless, while the “intense pace of delivery” of banned weapons has abated, “the arms embargo remains totally ineffective,” the experts tasked with monitoring the embargo said in an interim confidential report recently given to the Security Council.
For the study, which covers January to November 2021, the experts travelled twice to Libya, in April and again in September. As well as noting that they visited the eastern city of Benghazi.
They noted that the majority of Libya remains under the control of armed groups. “Based on the 2020 transfers, arms stockpiles remain high and sufficient to sustain any future conflict,” the experts said.
The country’s upcoming elections come as part of a push to end a decade of violence following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
It also led to a fragile unity government taking office in March, with a mandate to lead the country to these elections.
But the UN experts, who said they also travelled to France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Tunisia to complete their work, note that the majority of Libya is still controlled by armed groups.
“Based on the 2020 transfers, arms stockpiles remain high and sufficient to sustain any future conflict,” they said.
“The control of the supply chains by some member states continues, thus significantly hindering detection, disruption, or interdiction” of arms deliveries,” they added, without naming any offending countries.
Though rival parties in Libya have asked foreign fighters to leave the country, the experts say they are “maintaining foreign fighters among their forces, including nationals from Chad, Sudan, and Syria as well as from Russian private military companies.”
The United Nations has previously estimated that 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters are deployed in Libya.
“The panel has no evidence of any large scale withdrawals taking place to date,” the experts said.