“Those not respecting human rights must be held accountable”
28 February 2017 - The Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, has been following with deep concern the continued reports of civilians in Benghazi trapped in the midst of a combat zone without access to food and water.
UNSMIL has continuously called on both the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) to provide safe passage to the civilians trapped in Qanfuda.
On 25 February 2017 the Libyan mediator and UNSMIL received a letter from the LNA expressing their readiness to accept a ceasefire and to open a safe passage to all stranded persons in Building 12 area in Benghazi. The Special Representative is encouraged by the LNA’s commitment and calls for the implementation of these provisions. He also stressed that “all parties to the conflict will be held accountable”. The SRSG reminds the parties of their obligation under International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
Mr. Kobler urges the parties to:
· provide civilians a safe passage to allow evacuation in a dignified manner to a secure area;
· protect civilians, fighters who are sick or injured and have laid down their arms as well as fighters who surrender;
· prevent attacks on civilians of any kind and the use of civilians as human shields;
· urgently facilitate entry for humanitarian assistance to trapped civilians;
· treat any civilians taken into custody with dignity, allow family visits, legal representation, and consular visits for foreign nationals.
The Special Representative reminds the parties to the conflict that the International Criminal Court is closely following the developments in Benghazi.
The UN, working with humanitarian actors, stands ready to provide humanitarian assistance in line with the humanitarian principles of impartiality.
Notes to correspondents:
On 27 February, the SRSG sent a letter to the mediator asking him to convey similar messages to the parties.
Over the past year, UNSMIL has supported a Libyan-owned and led mediation process to allow the civilians who wish to leave the conflict zone a safe passage to a secure area. This led to an agreement, in principle, by the parties on the need to evacuate the civilians. However, a divergence on the details of the implementation remains. On 10 December 2016 and on 25 January 2017, the UN welcomed the evacuation of civilians from the Qanfuda area.