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In the news: ‘Stressed’ UN Libya envoy steps down

Efforts to secure a lasting ceasefire in Libya have hit yet another obstacle.

Ghassan Salamé, the UN’s envoy for Libya, briefing reporters at a Security Council meeting on 6 January 2020. Mark Garten/UN Photo
Ghassan Salamé, the UN’s envoy for Libya, briefing reporters at a Security Council meeting on 6 January 2020.

The UN’s envoy for Libya announced on Monday that he was resigning from his post, saying that his “health no longer allows this rate of stress”.

The unexpected move further throws into doubt the future of UN-led talks that have so far failed to end 11 months of fighting in the country, although it is not clear when Ghassan Salamé’s decision will come into effect;  he tweeted that he had asked the UN’s secretary-general to “relieve me from my mission, wishing Libya peace and stability”.

Salamé has served as special representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) since his appointment in June 2017.

Fighting in and around the capital city of Tripoli has forced nearly 150,000 people to flee their homes since April. The UN estimates that around 749,000 people are living in parts of the country affected by the violence, including nearly 345,000 near front lines. 

Among those hit hardest by the conflict are the hundreds of thousands of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the country, including several thousand people trapped in migrant detention centres, where conditions were dire even before the latest outbreak of fighting. Now, the internationally recognised government is struggling to provide even basic food to the migrants and refugees it is detaining.

Read more → How Libya’s war is taking a heavy toll on migrants and refugees

The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that an Eritrean man was killed after a fire broke out at a detention centre southwest of Tripoli on Saturday night. Around 500 people are being held in the centre, Dar al-Jebel, where a tuberculosis outbreak has been “raging for months”. MSF said the people at the detention centre “live in inhumane conditions with almost no assistance”.

– Annie Slemrod

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