On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that the Libyan conflict has entered a new phase, as foreign interference in the North African country has reached “unprecedented levels”.
He raised the possibility of creating a demilitarized zone to be controlled by the UN Special Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
During his speech at the UN Security Council, Guterres expressed his concern about the military forces amassing around the city of Sirte.
He added that UNSMIL was making efforts to reduce tensions in Libya. This included the establishment of a possible demilitarized zone in the country to implement the signed agreements and prevent further bloodshed.
The Secretary-General pointed out that the United Nations has engaged in mediation efforts to end the oil blockade. This was imposed in January by tribal actors affiliated to the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is loyal to the authorities of eastern Libya. The blockade has resulted in losses of revenues estimated at more than $6 billion.
Forces loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), “with significant external support, continued their advance eastward, and are 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Sirte”, Guterres said.
“We are very concerned about the alarming military build-up around the city and the high-level of direct foreign interference in the conflict in violation of the UN arms embargo, UN Security Council resolutions, and commitments made by member states in Berlin” he added.
The Secretary-General said UN-led talks with military leaders from both sides were focused on the departure of foreign mercenaries, counter-terrorism cooperation, “disarmament and demobilization of armed groups throughout Libya, and modalities for a possible ceasefire mechanism”.
Guterres said the latest fighting in southern Tripoli and Tarhuna had forced nearly 30,000 people to flee the violence, bringing the total of internally displaced people in Libya to more than 400,000.