12 October 2012

Libya: UN Urges Protection of Civilians Following Deadly Clashes in Bani Walid

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The United Nations today voiced concern over the impact of recent security developments, including loss of life and injury, amid deadly clashes between armed groups in the Libyan town of Bani Walid.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the North African nation, Georg Charpentier, reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and meet their basic needs.

"He further calls on all parties to extend their full support for a mediated settlement that allows the State to exercise its national authority and comprehensively addresses all outstanding issues related to Bani Walid," said a statement issued by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), of which Mr. Charpentier is serving as its acting head.

According to media reports, over recent days, several people have been killed or wounded in Bani Walid, some 170 kilometres south of the capital, Tripoli, in violence related to the overthrow of the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi last year. The town was reportedly one of the last to fall to rebels groups during the conflict, and some are said to consider it a shelter for regime loyalists and criminal gangs.

In the statement, Mr. Charpentier also reminded the parties of their obligations to ensure the "rapid and unimpeded" passage of regular supplies for the civilian population in Bani Walid, including humanitarian assistance.

"The UN in Libya supports ongoing humanitarian efforts and stands ready to provide assistance as requested," the statement added.

UNSMIL has been assisting the country's transition toward a modern democratic State, after decades of autocratic rule and the toppling of the al-Qadhafi regime.

Incidents of renewed fighting in various parts of the country are among the security challenges facing the North African nation, which also needs to prepare a new constitution, promote rule of law, protect human rights, and counter illicit arms proliferation.

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