Libya: 400 killed, 50,000 displaced-UN

The World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly 400 people have been killed and a lot more injured since Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar launched a major military offensive to seize the Libyan capital of Tripoli last month.

The Geneva-based organization, which is the specialized United Nations agency on international public health, announced on Friday that at least 392 people had been killed and 1,936 wounded since forces allied with the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) led by strongman Haftar launched an offensive against the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli on April 4.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also expressed concern about the alarming levels of displacement near the Libyan capital, saying more than 50,000 people had been displaced as a direct result “of the intensifying armed conflict in Tripoli.”

Additionally, Othman Abdel Jalil, the GNA’s education minister and the head of the government’s crisis committee, said on Thursday that the conflict had displaced 55,000 people (some 11,000 families). Jalil added that 40 reception centers and 27 schools had opened their doors to render aid to those in need.

Earlier this week, the UN warned against the “continuing deterioration” of humanitarian situation in the North African country as fierce fighting rages on between rival forces for control of the capital.

As long as the situation continues, we can expect to see a continuing deterioration, said a UN official.

Libya has been divided between two rival governments – the House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the GNA headed by Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli.

The 75-year-old Haftar, who enjoys the loyalty of a group of armed militia and backing from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, has taken upon himself to protect the government in Tobruk.

Armed forces and militia loyal to the GNA have been fighting back.

Libya’s crisis began to escalate on April 4 when forces loyal to Haftar launched a deadly campaign to invade and conquer Tripoli.

A new report shows Saudis have been funding Libyan general Haftar’s push to seize control of Tripoli.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has recently said that intensified fighting for control of Tripoli was turning the densely-populated residential areas of Tripoli into “battlefields.”

Libya has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled from power after an uprising and a NATO military intervention.

His ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Daesh terrorist group.

By Africafrique and agencies

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