Skhirat, Morocco, 20 September 2015 – The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) strongly condemns the military escalation in Benghazi on Saturday 19 September 2015. The timing of airstrikes clearly aims at undermining the on-going efforts to end the conflict.
Benghazi has suffered for too long. Too many civilians have been killed or wounded and more than 100,000 have been displaced by the conflict that has raged in the city for over a year now. Residential neighbourhoods have been reduced to rubble. The latest air offensive will add to the suffering of the city’s population at a time when the Libyan people are preparing to mark Eid al-Adha. This latest escalation will almost certainly deny them the hope they would have had to celebrate the Eid festivities in peace and calm, the Mission said.
Developments on the ground in Libya over the course of the past year have clearly shown that a military solution is not a viable option in Libya. Whether in Benghazi or elsewhere in the country, armed hostilities have shown time and again that they can only bring destruction and suffering for the Libyan people.
UNSMIL said the airstrikes are a clear attempt to undermine and derail the on-going efforts to end the conflict at a time when the negotiations have entered a final and most critical stage. The only solution must be within the framework of the on-going dialogue process and a political settlement that ensures inclusion, balance and consensus. The parties in Libya now have a historic opportunity to reach such an agreement that brings an end to the divisions and suffering, and allows for a new page to be turned in Libya.
UNSMIL calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Benghazi and across Libya, and on the warring parties to desist from any escalation or counterattack, and to exercise utmost restraint to give the on-going dialogue in Skhirat the chance to successfully conclude in the coming hours. The Mission calls on the parties to the conflict to cease immediately all indiscriminate attacks, noting that attacks against civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law and could constitute war crimes, and that those responsible will be fully held accountable.
Furthermore, UNSMIL calls on officials and influential personalities who support the political dialogue process to use their influence and leverage to de-escalate the military situation on the ground. It added that the military escalation should not derail efforts underway by sincere and patriotic Libyans who want to see peace and stability restored to their country.