Archive for category North Africa

Libya: in suspended animation

Ghaddafi symbolically rubbishes the UN Charter on 23rd September 2009 (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

With nearly a month passing since the last UNOCHA situation update for Libya, the conflict in the troubled North African state appears to have reached a stalemate, welcome in the narrow humanitarian sense but less so in the broader political.

According to UN official figures, well over a million people (mostly expats) have fled Libya since the troubles began on 17th February. An uncertain number (ranging from a few to several thousand) have either perished or have been seriously injured.

Thus far, 14 countries have recognised the TNC according to this press release. Worth noting too that of these, only Gambia and Senegal are African states. Notwithstanding early rhetoric, only three Arab League countries, namely Qatar, the UAE and Jordan have recognised the TNC.  Libya ironically, remains suspended from the Arab League. Did it indeed ever belong?

It is hard to imagine that an legitimate power sharing agreement can be put in place so long as Ghaddafi retains even the vestiges of power. Admittedly he is a potent symbol for some (possibly even many), but for all the wrong reasons.


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Civilian population at Misurata under intense bombardment

16 April 0700 (GMT+1) in Misurata

According to a streamed telephone conversation from Misurata, forces loyal to Col. Ghaddafi are preparing to capture the strategic facilities at Qasr Ahmed (the transhipment port of Misurata), much like what was attempted last week in Ajdabya.

Live phone call on Libya Al Hurra stream via the Freedom Group.

Rough translation…

Freedom Group: this is Misurata with you, the sky is black (at) Qasr Ahmed and Zarouk where people Have fled for (some) protection.
Misurata is calling, calling for help!
I swear the sky is black
Indiscriminate shelling, Misurata is calling you!
Many people are being killed
Where is Everyone? I swear Misurata is calling
The shelling began at 6:30 this morning,
More intense that last night
NATO did not help us, did not protect civilians
Sister, I don’t want to increase your burden!
Children, families, are dying
The Mosques are being destroyed
Do they want this to turn into Ajdabiyah?
Everyone is at Qasr Ahmed and Zarouk
Where is the East and the West?
I wish you could hear what I’m hearing
For God’s sakes, help us
People, people listen, people are dying

Perditta: Please, make sure that you are all in a safe place

Freedom Group: There is no solution, what is the solution, what do you want? Everyone is heading for the coast!
Please take this message to the world!
The children are losing their minds, they are all in hospital
Please, we are Muslims, Ben Walid, Zintan, they are sleeping in their houses, the cowards!
Please help us!
I am losing my mind, we are suffering terribly!
Misurata is calling! Please help Misurata! Where is Sarkozy? Where is Obama? NATO is doing nothing!
Families, people are dying
Nobody is protecting us
There is bloodshed on the streets, death is everywhere.
Why is this happening? Why?!
Please help Misrata!!!!
Antiaircraft guns, RPGs (anti-tank rockets) are being used
Are you waiting for the complete destruction of Misrata?
I swear, my sister, yesterday, families, my whole family, two twin girls, a girl, son, and a mother all killed by these Grad rockets, my father is critically injured in hospital
Please, young men are crying, weeping
How can we defend ourselves?
Misrata is drowning in blood
Where is everyone? Where is the East? I am from Benghazi, I didn’t know it was like this, why is this happening? Young Children, youth still in school, learning, are being killed!
Gaddafi is crazy, he is killing people!!!!

Perditta: We are with you, we are praying with you all

Freedom Group: God willing, God help us, God will be with us


International Criminal Court investigation in Libya – Review

On March 3, 2011, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced he would open an investigation into the situation in Libya. This follows the referral on February 26, 2011 by the United Nations (UN) Security Council—by a vote of 15-0—of the situation in Libya since February 15, 2011 to the ICC prosecutor.

The ICC is a permanent international court with jurisdiction over crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Currently, 114 states are parties to the ICC.

It is difficult to predict how long it might be between the beginning of an investigation and the issuance of arrest warrants or summonses. To date, the court’s investigations have lasted between 10 and 20 months before the first arrest warrants have been issued [….] In addition, because the ICC does not have its own police force and must rely on governments and the United Nations to enforce the warrants and effect arrests, some of its warrants have been outstanding for more than five years.

The UN Security Council resolution followed the establishment by the UN Human Rights Council of an international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violations in the face of reports of escalating violence in Libya. The Arab League, African Union, and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference condemned the violence. The UN General Assembly suspended Libya’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council as of March 1.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, the UN Security Council can refer a situation in any country (even a non signatory state) to the ICC prosecutor under its Chapter VII mandate if it determines that a situation constitutes a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security.

This is the second time that the the UN Security Council has referred a country to the ICC. In March 2005, the Security Council passed Resolution 1593 to refer the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. To date, the ICC has issued four arrest warrants, including two for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The ICC has also issued summonses to appear for three rebel leaders on charges related to attacks on an African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. All three rebel leaders have voluntarily appeared in The Hague, although one case was subsequently dropped for lack of evidence. The targets of the warrants, Al-Bashir, Ahmed Haroun, and Ali Kosheib, a “Janjaweed” militia leader, remain fugitives.

(Human Rights Watch,

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IOM: Thousands of migrants stranded in Misrata

A man holds an 81mm illumination mortar shell on the frontline along the western entrance of Ajdabiyah April 14, 2011. REUTERS

IOM is deeply concerned at the fate of at least 6,000 migrants stranded in the Libyan city of Misrata in an extremely poor state with an IOM-chartered boat currently en route to the city’s port aiming to rescue as many as it can.

After many weeks of living often in the open, limited food, no clean water and in fear, it has been reported to IOM that the migrants are in a desperately worrying condition with many severely dehydrated and weak.

Of the 6,000 awaiting evacuation, two thirds are Egyptians, with also large groups of Nigeriens, Bangladeshis, Ghanaians, Sudanese and Nigerians and other nationalities such as Iraqis and Tunisians.

“IOM has been trying for several weeks to evacuate the migrants from Misrata but much to our frustration it has not been possible until now. From reports on the ground, this rescue mission cannot come soon enough,” says an IOM staff member on the boat. “It is going to be heartbreaking not being able to take everyone out at once.”

The Organization, which is constantly struggling with a shortage of funds to provide evacuation and other humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing Libya, doesn’t currently have sufficient funds to evacuate all of the estimated 6,000 in Misrata.

“We should not be put in a position of deciding who we save when so many people are in an appalling situation everywhere,” says Fernando Calado, IOM’s Head of Emergencies and Post Crisis Division.

The IOM-chartered boat which has a capacity of 800 people is also carrying hundreds of tons of urgently needed humanitarian aid to Misrata.

The boat is loaded with more than 400 tons of food, non-food and medical assistance which IOM staff say shows an outpouring of goodwill from the Libyan population.

Libyan businesses, private individuals as well as national and international non-governmental organizations such as the Libyan Red Crescent, Libyan Appeal Team, Mercy Corps, ACTED and Cesvi have donated the goods and medical supplies. These include food, both dried and fresh, water, baby food and baby supplies, as well as medicines and medical supplies for hospitals.

The Libyan Appeal Team has donated 108 tons of 27 kilo family food parcels for immediate distribution, with each parcel able to provide a family with basic nutrition.

The aid contributions are based on what is needed in the city. This includes 195 tons of pasta which is in extremely short supply as well as fresh food such as onions and other vegetables.

Medical supplies are based on what doctors who have left Misrata have informed are desperately needed in hospitals in the city.

The humanitarian aid on the boat will help to alleviate some of the suffering in the city with reports that at least 2,000 families have been displaced by fighting there and who are currently either being hosted by other families or seeking shelter wherever they can find it.

IOM is liaising with aid committees on the ground which will organize and carry out the aid distributions.

For further information, please contact Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/+41 79 217 3374 Email: or Jumbe Omari Jumbe, Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+ 41 79 812 7734 email:

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Libyan Arab Jamahiriya • Crisis Situation Report No. 24


• An International Organization for Migration ship will evacuate 1,000 people from Misrata to Benghazi on 13 April as part of efforts to evacuate 6,000 third-country nationals from Misrata.

• On 11 April, UNICEF reported that intensified fighting and indiscriminate shelling had led to an increased number of children being killed in Misrata. At least 20 children have been killed and many more injured, due to wounds from mortar shrapnel and bullets. There have been confirmed reports of sniper fire hitting children in Misrata. Almost all reported child casualties occurred in the past three weeks, with a majority of child victims below 10 years of age. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported  on 10 April that Government forces had been repeatedly targeting a medical clinic in Misrata since 23 March, and notably on 7 April. Aid organizations and medical personnel have also reported being targeted in Misrata and Ajdabiya. Arab Medical Union (AMU) reports the deaths of two doctors and the kidnapping of four others since 21 February.

• Humanitarian organizations continue delivering food assistance inside Libya, particularly inside Misrata where Islamic Relief and World Food Programme (WFP) are coordinating a shipment of humanitarian supplies.

• A second shipment of medical kits will be sent to Misrata from Benghazi and Tubruq on 15 April, including drugs for the primary health care of a population of 50 000 for 3 months, and for 500 cases of chronic diseases such as diabetics, hypertension, chronic chest diseases and cardiac diseases. Working since 21 February in Libya, Arab Medical Union (AMU) have eight doctors and 21 nurses and have brought in 20 tons of supplies into Libya. AMU teams are located in Ben Misyat, Tubruq, Derna, Bidiya, Ajdabiya, Ras Lanouf, Benghazi and Misrata. Medical teams are mobile and visit areas where needs are greatest, at times along the front lines of fighting. The ICRC has delivered medical kits to the opposition.

• Amnesty International (AI) reports on 12 April that captured opposition Libyan fighters have been found shot in the head with their hands tied behind their backs. AI has collected substantial evidence supporting the claims that other human rights abuses have been committed, including when forces loyal to Qaddafi deliberately killed unarmed protesters and attacked civilians fleeing fighting past six weeks.

• There are also numerous reports of indiscriminate shelling and shooting in populated areas, as well as of civilians targeted by forces loyal to Qaddafi. Reports of journalists being detained for days and being kidnapped continue. Aid organizations working in Libya report extremely limited press freedom, while international journalists report being limited in their ability to cover stories in certain places.

• The intensity of hostilities in Misrata precludes humanitarian access to conflict-affected populations. Due to
the fighting, many children are traumatized and lack food and potable drinking water both in Misrata and in
other areas of intense hostilities.

• In Misrata and some other towns water has been cut off for over 40 days. Access to these areas to assess the situation for WASH needs is necessary to determine the level of humanitarian response.

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Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Crisis: Situation Report No. 22

This report is produced by OCHA Libya in collaboration with humanitarian partners, covering the period of 5 to 7 April. The next report will be issued on or around 10 April.


· The United Nations and the humanitarian community were able to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid through a World Food Programme-chartered ship which has docked at Misrata port on 7 April.

· A temporary cessation of hostilities has been urgently called for by the United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos.

· The presence of landmines, abandoned munitions and unexploded ordnances inside Libya pose a serious threat to civilians.

· The US$ 310 million Flash Appeal for the Libyan Crisis is currently funded at 39 per cent with US$ 120 million committed and US$ 1.4 million in pledges.

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Libyan Arab Jamahiriya • Crisis Situation Report No. 21, 05 April 2011


  • There remains a dire need for further access and humanitarian intervention in conflict-affected areas in northwestern Libya, and particularly in Misrata. Intervention in the health sector and regarding the protection of civilians are needed urgently.
  • Between 13,200 and 13,600 people remain stranded at camps and transit points in Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and Algeria.
  • In addition to the huge constraints being placed on large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, ongoing fighting has placed enormous strain on medical supplies, equipment and specialist personnel. This resulted in large areas contaminated with landmines. There are reports that Libyans are removing landmines by hand and that 40 anti-tank and 26 anti-personnel mines have been removed near Ajdaibya. Unexploded ordnance (UXOs) pose a greater problem as do abandoned weapons and like landmines, require specialised equipment and personnel for safe removal. There is a need for community-based communication campaigns to appropriately sensitize populations on the dangers of landmines, unexploded ordnance and abandoned weapons. There is also a need to conduct assessments, including recording and documenting of these new mines. There is no effective coordination for reporting, recording and documenting identified landmine and OXO hazards within the country due to the security situation in Libya. There is a lack of available capacity to effectively mitigate this threat.

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Anatomy of a Peacekeeping Mission

Like Eufor Libya, the Eufor mandate in Chad and the Central African Republic was a response to a UN Security Council Resolution (1778) which was approved by the UN on 25 September 2007 and which received European Union approval 15 days later.

1778 authorized a “European Union operation” to deploy, for a period of one year from the date that its initial operating capability was declared by the European Union in consultation with the Secretary-General, and was similarly “authorized to take all necessary measures” within its capabilities and its area of operation (eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic).

This, in fulfilment of the following three functions (as agreed by the European Union and the United Nations, in liaison with the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic):

(i) To contribute to protecting civilians in danger, particularly refugees and displaced persons;

(ii) To facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of humanitarian personnel by helping to improve security in the area of operations;

(iii) To contribute to protecting United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensuring the security and freedom of movement of its staff and United Nations and associated personnel.

In terms of timelines, Eufor was deployed in February 2008 and only reached Initial Operational Capability on 15 March 2008 (exactly 5 months after it was authorised by the EU Council). A year after that, a UN force took over the mandate.

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Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED)

The Union for the Mediterranean promotes economic integration and democratic reform across 16 neighbours to the EU’s south in North Africa and the Middle East.

Formerly known as the Barcelona Process, cooperation agreements were re-launched in 2008 as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Déclaration commune du sommet de Paris pour la Méditerranée -  Paris, 13 juillet 2008                         .

The re-launch was an opportunity to render relations both more concrete and more visible with the initiation of new regional and sub-regional projects with real relevance for those living in the region. Projects address areas such as economy, environment, energy, health, migration and culture.

Along with the 27 EU member states, 16 Southern Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern countries are members of the UfM: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

Currently meetings are co-presided over by one Mediterranean and one EU country. As of September 2010, the UfM also has a functional secretariat, based in Barcelona, a Secretary General and six deputy secretary generals.

Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, governance from the EU side will be rearranged once the EEAS has been established.

The UfM has a number of key initiatives on its agenda:

  • the de-pollution of the Mediterranean Sea, including coastal and protected marine areas;
  • the establishment of maritime and land highways that connect ports and improve rail connections so as to facilitate movement of people and goods;
  • a joint civil protection programme on prevention, preparation and response to natural and man-made disasters;
  • a Mediterranean solar energy plan that explores opportunities for developing alternative energy sources in the region;
  • a Euro-Mediterranean University, inaugurated in Slovenia in June 2008;
  • the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative, which supports small businesses operating in the region by first assessing their needs and then providing technical assistance and access to finance.

(European Union External Action)

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EUFOR Libya decision adopted


The Council has adopted today the decision, underpinning the mandates of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, establishing an operation, called ’EUFOR Libya’ in order to stand ready to support humanitarian assistance in the region, if requested by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The aim of the operation would be to contribute to the safe movement and evacuation of displaced persons and to support the humanitarian agencies in their activities with specific capabilities. The headquarters of the operation shall be located in Rome, Rear Admiral Claudio Gaudiosi has been appointed as Operation Commander.

Brussels, 01 April2011

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