Shelling Kills Seven at Displaced People Shelter in Tripoli

Earlier this month, smoke rises over Tripoli after shelling by Haftar’s NLA Earlier this month, smoke rises over Tripoli after shelling by Haftar’s NLA AFP

17 May 2020 

Khalifa Haftar’s forces are reported to be responsible for the attack on Tripoli’s Fornaj district, leaving seven civilians dead and 17 injured

Officials within the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have reported the attack on Fornaj district, blaming the eastern-based forces of Khalifa Haftar. The shelling took place late on Saturday and hit a displaced people shelter, causing the death of seven civilians, including a five-year old Bengali child. As announced on Twitter by Amin Al-Hashemi, spokesperson of the GNA Health Ministry, 17 civilians were also injured during the attack. 

The displaced people shelter was home to people who had fled from neighbouring areas, especially from Ain Zara district, after earlier clashes. Usama Ali, spokesman of Tripoli’s emergency and ambulance service, told Reuters that the shelter was going to be evacuated, due to the district’s proximity to the frontline. The city of Tripoli has been under siege since April 2019, when Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched its offensive to capture the capital, seat of the internationally recognized GNA. If the latter has recently won back some ground thanks to Turkish military support, Haftar can still count on some powerful allies, among which Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. As a UN report highlighted, the LNA is responsible for 4/5 of the civilian casualties of the Libyan conflict during the first three months of 2020. According to the country director of the International Rescue Committee, 17 attacks against health facilities have been recorded since January. 

Earlier this month, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had already condemned the appalling increase of indiscriminate attacks against civilians: in one week only, 15 civilians were reported killed and 50 injured. The UNSMIL denounced the manifest disregard towards international humanitarian law and human rights law, warning both parties to the conflict that such violations may amount to war crimes and be sanctioned as such. In its turn, the European Union has recently launched a new military operation in the Mediterranean, aiming to enforce the implementation of the UN arms embargo imposed on Libya. Ambitiously named Irini (Greek for “peace”), the EU mission has already raised significant criticism, not least because it focuses on naval supplies, whereas Haftar’s arsenals can be easily replenished overland via the Egyptian border.


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Author: Ester Zangrandi

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