Briefing the Security Council on Wednesday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry voiced urgent need for an immediate nationwide ceasefire in Libya under the auspices of the United Nations.
During the briefing, Shoukry said that it is Egypt’s desire to see Libya free of foreign intervention.
He added that Egypt will not tolerate any threats coming from Libya after militants from the Islamic State terrorist group were reported to have boots on the ground in western Libya. He explained that these forces are “aided by foreign intervention.”
Foreign intervention must be ceased and desisted, Shoukry asserted, adding that these dangers were fueled by the transfer of extremist fighters from Syria to Libya as reported by human rights organisations.
He also reiterated Egypt’s stance is supporting a political solution to the Libyan conflict as per the recommendations of the Cairo Declaration.
In the same context, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the situation in Libya as “gloomy,” and urged the international community to seize every opportunity to unblock the political stalemate.
“Time is not on our side in Libya,” he said the Security Council videoconference meeting that featured statements by several countries’ foreign ministers.
“The conflict has entered a new phase, with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting,” Guterres added.
Between 1 April and 30 June, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) documented at least 356 casualties, including 102 civilian deaths and 254 civilian injuries – a 172% increase compared to the January-to-March period.
Guterres said that the UN stands ready to help Libya secure and investigate mass graves discovered when forces allied to the Government of National Accord (GNA) retook control of Tarhouna, a former stronghold of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) about 100km south-east Tripoli.
Moreover, Russia and Turkey are working on an immediate ceasefire to put an end to the conflict in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
Russian news agency, Interfax, quoted Lavrov as saying that the LAAF, which Moscow backs, is ready to sign a ceasefire document. Lavrov expressed his hopes that Turkey will convince the country’s internationally recognised GNA to do the same.
Meanwhile, the ministers of defence from Turkey and Italy agreed at talks, on Tuesday, on the need for a political solution to the conflict in Libya, according to a readout by Turkey’s Ministry of Defence.
“We have gladly observed that we share common and similar views on several issues,” Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.
He added that security and defence cooperation between the two countries would benefit the Mediterranean region.
“At some stage, when we invited the main protagonists, [Khalifa] Haftar, [Fayez] Sarraj, [Aguila] Saleh, in January this year ahead of the Berlin Conference, LAAF thought its positions on the ground to be more favourable and was not ready to sign a document that Sarraj considered acceptable,” Akar said. “Now, the LAAF, according to our assessments, is ready to sign such a document on immediate ceasefire, but this time it is the Tripoli government who does not want to do it, counting on the military solution.”
Akar expressed his regret that, although all sides declare that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict, this does not translate into practical steps.
With the second largest military in NATO, Turkey, backs the GNA in Libya’s conflict, whilst the LAAF, led by Commander Khalifa Haftar, is backed by the UAE, Egypt, and Russia.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis compared migrant detention centres in Libya to concentration camps. He added that the world was being given only a diluted version of how hellish life is for the people living there.
Pope Francis, who has in the past called for the camps to be closed, made his comments during a Massto marking the seventh anniversary of his trip to the Italian island of Lampedusa. The island is the landing place for many migrants making the perilous crossing from North Africa.