24 February 2012

Libya: UN Distributes Relief Supplies to Victims of Deadly Ethnic Clashes

Photo: Al Jazeera
Armed rebels commandeer a tank (file photo).

The United Nations is providing relief supplies to residents of the desert town of Kufra in south-eastern Libya, where inter-ethnic clashes in the past two weeks have reportedly killed dozens of people.

Georg Charpentier, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, told the UN News Centre today that the world body has begun distributing water, food and non-food items to people caught up in the fighting.

The situation in Kufra is relatively calm today, he said, with a ceasefire between the Toubu and Zwai tribal groups apparently holding and a Libyan military contingent in place to deter further hostilities.

Long-simmering tensions between the two ethnic groups erupted on 12 February in Kufra, a key staging point for migrants making their way between sub-Saharan Africa and the north of the continent.

Media reports indicate at least 30 people have been killed in the clashes, with the possible death toll much higher.

Mr. Charpentier, who is also the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Libya and deputy chief of the UN political mission (UNSMIL), said an inter-agency mission reached Kufra yesterday to assess the situation and determine humanitarian needs.

Some of the injured from the fighting have been evacuated, and those that were stranded can now be reached by humanitarian workers.

Mr. Charpentier said Libya's interim authorities are leading efforts to mediate between the Toubu and the Zwai, and the UN was willing to offer support to those efforts if needed.

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