NEW YORK — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that foreign interference in the Libyan conflict has reached „unprecedented levels”.
Briefing the Security Council, the UN chief described the situation in Libya as “gloomy” — and urged the international community to seize every opportunity to unblock the political stalemate.
“Time is not on our side in Libya”, he said during a video-teleconference meeting of the Council that featured statements by several foreign ministers.
Denouncing the escalation in Libya, the UN chief said that foreign mercenaries with sophisticated equipment are involved in the fighting.
„The conflict has entered a new phase with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting,“ Guterres said.
Libya descended into chaos after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since 2014, Libya has been split between the Tripoli-based Government National Alliance led by Fayez Al-Sarraj, while Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the Libyan National Army, controls the country’s east.
The UN chief expressed particular concern over the buildup of the military forces near the city of Sirte, located between the capital Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east.
„We are very concerned about the alarming military build-up around the city, and the high-level of direct foreign interference in the conflict in violation of the UN arms embargo, UN Security Council resolutions, and commitments made by member states in Berlin“ in January, the UN chief said.