Libya migrant centre attack may amount to war crime: UN envoy

Written by on July 4, 2019

The UN Security Council has failed to condemn the deadly air raid on a migrant detention centre in the Libyan capital Tripoli amid global outrage over the attack that killed 44 people and wounded 130 others.

Earlier, the United Nations envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, condemned the air raid saying it “clearly could constitute a war crime”.

The attack in the early hours of Wednesday intensified concerns about the European Union’s policy of teaming up with Libyan militias to block refugees and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea, which often leaves them at the mercy of brutal traffickers, or stranded in horrible conditions inside squalid detention centres near the front lines.

It could also lead to greater pressure on renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces launched an offensive to seize the capital in April. The Tripoli-based UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) blamed pro-Haftar forces of carrying out the attack on the detention camp.

According to the UN Support Mission in Libya, the air raid killed at least 44 people and wounded more than 130.

Libya: Air raid kills dozens at Tripoli migrant detention centre (2:08)

“The absurdity of this ongoing war today has led this odious bloody carnage to its most hideous and most tragic consequences,” it said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation of the “outrageous” bombing.

His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary-general condemns “this horrendous incident in the strongest terms” and wants to ensure the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Washington, DC, said that the UNSC met for more than three hours discussing the air attacks but they were unable to reach any conclusion on whether to take any action.

“It does not look like the UN is going to do anything beyond issuing condemnation which is quite sad given that what’s happening in Libya can set a very serious dangerous precedent globally,” said Hafed Al Ghwell from Johns Hopkins University.

Al Ghwell told Al Jazeera that the UN has failed to even condemn the aggression by [Haftar], who has been trying to take over the capital of a government that is recognised by itself.

“That’s a sign of a serious failure happening at the UN at the highest level. It can signal that every warlord in the world or a would-be warlord can get away with such an action.”

Meanwhile, air traffic was halted on Wednesday at Tripoli’s only functioning airport, Mitiga, after another air strike hit the facility, according to authorities. No further details were immediately available

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