Foreign fighters and mercenaries must leave Libya, says UN chief

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is again urging countries to withdraw all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, saying they continue to operate throughout the conflict-stricken North African country in violation of last October’s cease-fire agreement “with no discernible abatement of their activities.”

The U.N. chief also urged countries supplying arms and military equipment to the foreign fighters to stop violating the U.N. arms embargo, saying, the movement of aircraft providing logistical support “also continued unabated” at airbases in central Libya in the strategic city of Sirte and nearby Jufra area.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Guterres called for implementation of “a comprehensive plan for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign forces from Libya, with clear timelines.”

He also urged Libyan parties “to exert every effort to ensure” that parliamentary and presidential elections are held on Dec. 24 in accordance with the political road map that ended hostilities last year.

The U.N. chief also warned that the presence and activities of violent extremist organizations including affiliates of al-Qaida and the Islamic State “were reported in all regions, including in the form of direct threats against civilians and United Nations personnel and attacks against security forces.”

The 16-page report details ongoing human rights abuses by armed groups and units affiliated with the government, including killings, enforced disappearances and conflict-related sexual violence.

Guterres called for an end to those abuses and to “the continued arbitrary detention of migrants in inhumane conditions in formal detention centers and informal smuggler-operated sites.”

Photo: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres . EPA-EFE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

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