European leaders urge ‘Humanitarian Truce’ in Libya at Ramadan
The German, French and Italian foreign ministers on Saturday issued a joint statement calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Libya. Together with EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Foreign Ministers Heiko Maas of Germany, Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Luigi Di Maio of Italy urged both sides in the conflict to “pursue a genuine ceasefire.””We want to unite our voices to those of the UN Secretary-General [Antonio] Guterres and his Acting Special Representative for Libya, Stephanie Turco Williams, in their call for a humanitarian truce in Libya,” the statement said. “We call on all the Libyan actors to get inspired by the spirit of the Holy Ramadan, engage in resuming talks for a genuine ceasefire.”
Libya has seen a surge in violence this month, particularly in the west of the country. Forces loyal to General Khalifa Hifter have intensified their siege on the city of Tripoli, which is controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord.
Aid groups have called for a halt to the fighting amid concerns that the violence will further destabilize a country already struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The conflict continues unabated and developments during the latest weeks have increased concerns, in particular over the situation among the long-suffering Libyan population,” the European ministers said in their statement Saturday.
Foreign arms fuel conflict
World leaders met in Berlin in mid-January to renew peace efforts in Libya. Fighting has continued since then, however, with the UN noting 850 violations of the ceasefire agreement reached at the conference.
Special envoy Williams said the renewed violence has been fueled by arms imported from abroad. Hifter has received fighter jets and drones from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while Russian private mercenaries have been deployed to aid his forces on the ground.
“Libya has become an experimental field for all kinds of new weapon systems,” Williams said earlier this week.
The European Union has launched a naval and air mission in an effort to stop more arms entering the country from the eastern Mediterranean. The EU is concerned that the increased fighting in Libya, which has been embroiled in conflict since the NATO-backed overthrow of Moammar Ghadafi in 2011, could cause an increase in migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa