UNSMIL: 20 Thousand Mercenaries in Libya


On Wednesday, the Acting Head of the UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL), Stephanie Williams, warned of the risk posed by the thousands of foreign fighters in Libya.

In her speech during the opening session of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), held in Tunis, Williams said that there are now ten military bases nationwide that are either fully or partially occupied by foreign forces. She added that there are also 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in the North African country. “You may believe that these foreigners are here as your guests, but they are now occupying your house. This is a blatant violation of the arms embargo,” she stated.

“I have previously warned about the declining socio-economic conditions in the country and the fact that we expect in one month time, exactly in January 2021, that there will be 1.3 million Libyans, your compatriots, your citizens, in need of humanitarian assistance.” Williams also warned of the sharp decline in the purchasing power of the Libyan dinar as the liquidity crisis has returned. “There is a shortage of cash in circulation,” she noted.

Williams also discussed the electricity crisis, saying, “I don’t need to remind you of how terrible the electricity shortages were last summer, this was due to the corruption and the misgovernance all over the country. I am not pointing fingers. This is a crisis in the west and in the east. You have a crisis of corruption. You have a misgovernance crisis, and now you have only 13 out of 27 power plants that are functioning.”

The UN official said that one billion US dollars is needed immediately to be invested in the electrical infrastructure in order to avert a complete collapse of the electrical grid in the country. “This is very difficult now because of the divisions in the institutions, and because of the epidemic of corruption and this kleptocratic class that is determined to remain in power,” Williams continued. She also warned Libyans of the danger of interference of some foreign actors who are behaving with complete impunity. She added that there are domestic actors who are engaging in widespread corruption, self-dealing, and the mismanagement of the country.

The UNSMIL head also highlighted the increasing lack of accountability and human rights violations on a daily basis. She stressed that kidnappings, arbitrary detentions, killings by armed groups occur throughout the country.

Williams concluded by saying, “I think that the best way to move forward is through this political dialogue. This is a broad and inclusive forum for decision-making, and people are counting on you. We went a long way in Tunis. We set the date of elections. We need to hold accountable all those institutions that need to produce the elections, but you also have a governance crisis. The best way to address your governance crisis is to unify your institutions, to unify your Central Bank which needs to have a board meeting to address the exchange rate crisis immediately.”