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Press briefing note on Libya – escalating risks

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Elizabeth Throssell
Location: Geneva
Date: 8 June 2018
Subject: Libya – escalating risks

We are deeply alarmed at the escalating risks to the population in the eastern city of Derna in Libya, where fighting has intensified in recent days with the Libyan National Army group – the LNA - reported to have taken over densely populated districts.   

There have been increasing allegations that civilians have been arbitrarily detained, while others have been prevented from leaving the city. 

The humanitarian situation in Derna, which has a population of some 125,000, is also said to be deteriorating, with shortages of food, water and medicine. Since 5 June, the city’s only hospital has been closed and we have documented the deaths of three women as a result of the lack of oxygen supplies. 

Our concern for civilians and fighters who have surrendered, laid down their weapons, are sick or wounded, or otherwise hors de combat is all the greater given the serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law that we documented during fighting for control of the eastern oil crescent and for parts of the city of Benghazi, both in early 2017. 

We urge all parties to the conflict in Derna, including the LNA and the Derna Protection Forces, to take all feasible measures to protect civilians. We call on the LNA to allow unimpeded humanitarian assistance to reach the city. We also call on all parties to the conflict to ensure that the wounded and sick, both civilians and those who have participated in hostilities, are cared for, including through medical evacuations. They should also facilitate safe passage for civilians wishing to leave the city.  

All commanders should take effective steps to ensure that their forces comply with their obligations under international law

The population of Derna must be protected and treated with dignity and respect. 

ENDS 

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org or Liz Throssell - + 41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org
2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights http://www.standup4humanrights.org/

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