Statement of Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya on repeated attacks on Mitiga airport
Tripoli, 4 August 2019 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salame condemns the repeated indiscriminate shelling targeting Mitiga airport, the only indispensable functioning airport available for use by millions of civilians and for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the greater Tripoli area. These attacks have continued unabated since the start of the LNA offensive against Tripoli on 4 April despite United Nations’ calls for the protection of all civilian infrastructure and for precautions to protect the civilian population.
Ahead of the upcoming season of pilgrimage, attacking Mitiga airport jeopardises the ability of pilgrims from Western Libya to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. On 3 August, more than 250 pilgrims were affected by the strikes against the airport and forced to seek alternative arrangements, after projectiles hit the immediate vicinity of the taxiway used by commercial airliners.
The Special Representative reminds the parties to the conflict that the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must at all times be fully respected in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian laws. All feasible precautions must be taken to protect the civilian population.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General notes that the repeated strikes against Mitiga airport are one element of the increasing violence affecting the civilian population. He expresses his continued concern over the broader impact on those directly affected by the fighting, including the thousands of civilians trapped in frontline areas and the hundreds of thousands of displaced. To alleviate and start to address these urgent humanitarian priorities, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General reiterates his call for a Truce to start on the upcoming Eid al Adha.