Libya Is a Victim of Migration, Not Its Reason, Says GNA President Serraj

Destroyed building in Tripoli (file photo).
24 September 2020

Libya, as a country of transit for migrants, cannot surmount the associated challenges without international support, the country's Head of State told world leaders gathered virtually for the UN General Assembly, rejecting "unilateral" reports on the situation of migrants.

Addressing, via a pre-recorded video, Faiez Mustafa Serraj, President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya, said that such "exaggerated" reports are not helpful and focus only on allegations of violations by relevant Libyan authorities.

Such reports do not mention the efforts by the same authorities, which serve the interests of the migrants, he said, clarifying that "half a million migrants live peacefully among Libyans, work in different sectors and send funds back home to their families."

"There is currently international consensus that challenges of migrants are greater than the capacity of any single nation. Libya is a victim of migration, not its reason," stressed President Serraj, calling for concerted efforts to address the root causes of migration.

"Everything possible must be done to address poverty, unemployment and all hardships that drive people to embark on life threatening journeys," he urged.

'I wish I was reporting the end of the difficult transition'

In his address, President Serraj, told world leader that every time he comes to the UN General Assembly, he wishes he could speak of the end of the difficult transition in his country and report on a peaceful transfer of power.

However, he comes with the message that certain actors continue to undermine peace in Libya and pursue destructive means to seize power, said the Libyan leader.

"The heroes of our armed forces are the bedrock that will defeat all those seeking to return our country into a dictatorship," President Serraj said, noting that the Government thwarted attacks on the capital, Tripoli, in 2019.

States "known to everyone" continue to support to support the militias, in contravention of Security Council resolutions, he said, urging the States to establish relationships with Libya based on common interests.

External intervention and support for militias hinders Government and UN efforts to establish sustainable peace, said President Serraj, reiterating calls for an agreement on a constitutional convention and long-awaited elections.

Achieving these goals requires resumed political talks with all relevant stakeholders, only excluding those found guilty of crimes against Libya's people.

Engaging with UN-led peace process

The Government is engaging with the UN-led peace process and continues to offer initiatives in goodwill to solve the political and security crisis faced by all Libyans, President Serraj said.

Libya possesses the force and faith to defeat aggressors, he said, adding that the Government announced a ceasefire and called for elections by March 2021.

For the ceasefire to be effective militias must withdraw from territories in which they are active, he said, stressing "militias must return to their home countries and ports must reopen."

He welcomed leaders in eastern Libya that called for a ceasefire, however, militias in the region are not abiding and are therefore responsible for any casualties.

Full statement (in Arabic) available here

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