UN envoy: Libyan authorities must support country’s ‘vulnerable’ south

New York Despite years of promises to address the vulnerable heart of Libya � the country's south � conditions around its water and oil resource wealth have continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate, the United Nations envoy for the country told the Security Council.

Ghassan Salame, the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), spoke to Council members on Friday via video conference in Tripoli about his recent visit to the south � the first since 2012.

I heard first-hand from citizens who spoke movingly about the terrible hardships they endure, he said � from the brutality of Daesh terrorist militants to what he described as lakes of sewage in the region due to the lack of investment in basic public infrastructure and foreign mercenaries who slip through porous borders to common criminals alike that prey upon citizens and migrants.

While UNSMIL has built a taskforce to tackle the situation, and agencies are helping, it is the Libyan authorities who must shoulder the burden he stated.

Inaction leads to attacks against water pipelines and oil facilities, which hurt Libya's slowly recovering economy, and leave citizens vulnerable to armed violence.

Wherever there is fighting, parties must take all measures to protect civilians and civilian facilities and adhere to International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law or face the consequences, underscored Salame.

He relayed positive steps made by the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accords (GNA), including the appointment of Health and Local Governance Ministers, which have improved our scope to support service delivery and reform. However, country-wide security remains precarious.

The UN envoy affirmed that disturbances in the South over the lack of services have recently slowed production. It is essential that such grievances be addressed without resorting to threatening the national economy he stressed.

UNSMIL has been returned in full force, Salame said, pointing to the reopening of the Benghazi office this month and the opening of an office in the South later this year, stating: It is vital that we are here, in Libya.

Underscoring the importance of the National Conference in tackling the country's underlying dysfunctionalities, he implored Libya to see it as a patriotic concern that transcends partisan and personal interests and asked for Security Council's support.

The political deadlock in Libya has been underpinned by a complex web of narrow interests, a broken legal framework and the pillaging of Libya's great wealth, the special envoy said, adding: Only Libyans themselves can plot a path out of this malaise, towards stability and prosperity.

Source: International Islamic News Agency