Martin Kobler Calls for Safe Evacuation of Civilians Caught Up in Benghazi Fighting

21 Apr 2016

Martin Kobler Calls for Safe Evacuation of Civilians Caught Up in Benghazi Fighting

21 April 2016 - Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, calls upon all the warring parties in Benghazi to ensure that civilians are protected. He urges the parties to allow and facilitate the safe and immediate exit of all civilians who are trapped in areas affected by fighting and wish to leave.

Martin Kobler said, “All civilians – man, woman or child, Libyan or foreigner – wanting to leave the areas of fighting in Benghazi must be allowed to do so as a matter of urgency. The warring parties must ensure civilians are free to leave and that their evacuation is safe. The wounded must be taken care of and everyone must be treated humanely, in line with international humanitarian law”.

The Special Representative reminds all warring parties of their obligations to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. “All parties must ensure the protection of civilians in accordance with international law, and those who fail to do so must be held accountable. ” said Martin Kobler.


A large number of civilians, including Libyans and migrant workers, are trapped in areas of fighting in Benghazi, including the Ganfouda, Gawarsha and Marissa neigbourhoods. They face shortages of electricity, food, medical supplies and other necessities, in addition to the hazards of active fighting.

UNSMIL has long been seeking to arrange a humanitarian ceasefire in Benghazi that would allow all civilians wishing to leave to do so and facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations on the ground. So far, it has not been able to secure the agreement of the warring parties.

International humanitarian law requires all sides to protect civilians and fighters hors de combat (no longer in a position to continue fighting because of wounds or other reasons). Civilians should be free to leave and not used as shields. Those seeking to leave should not be subjected to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment or reprisals.