Archive for category The European Union
Two developments in recent days, signal a new phase in the civil war in Libya and a government fast running out of options.
Firstly, the welcome eviction of the last of the government sniper teams from the city centre of Misurata, which has forced an ominous change of tactics according to a statement made by Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister on Saturday.
“There was an ultimatum to the Libyan army: if they cannot solve the problem in Misurata, then the people from Zliten, Tarhuna, Bani Walid and Tawargha will move in and they will talk to the rebels. If they don’t surrender, then they will engage them and fight.”
While it is unusual for a government to give “an ultimatum” to it’s own army, Kaim’s statement suggests that the government intends to arm and deploy civilians from neighbouring areas, possibly very soon, to regain the initiative and seize the port facilities at Qasr Ahmed. Reports on Saturday confirm that the city was still being shelled from positions outside the city.
The second development is an attempt by the government to muster the support of the Arab League for political reforms that would pave the way for a pro-Ghaddafi political party to return to power through the popular vote. The opposition has flatly rejected these overtures not simply because it feels that the Ghaddafis have no part to play in their future state but also because they fear his political patronage and wealth will unfairly favour loyalists, leaving Saif al-Islam at the reins of a new democratic state.
The International Community and the Arab League need to think hard about taking some more brave steps to prevent further institutionalisation of violence in Libya.
Misurata remains under heavy rocket, shell and sniper fire. Independent media report that pro-Ghaddafi forces are unleashing more than 100 rockets a day on what is Libya’s third largest city, and that this has resulted in scores of casualties which include children and the elderly. Human Rights Watch (HRW) have confirmed the use of Spanish made cluster munitions by pro-Ghaddafi forces in Misurata.
Between 15 and 16 April, HRW experts observed at least three MAT-120 mortars exploding over the city, one in a densely populated area only 300 metres from the main hospital. The use of cluster munitions is banned by over 108 countries as part of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Despite heavy shelling, the UNOCHA reports that humanitarian organizations have been able to deliver aid and evacuate people from the port, to safety.
Meanwhile, the office of Baroness Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is working on a plan to deploy a humanitarian military mission (Eufor Libya) to secure better access to and protection of the civilian populations in line with the mandate of resolution 1973 (2011) .
Politically, the decision as to whether this humanitarian force is deployed will have to come from the UN, specifically the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Thus far, the head of UNOCHA, Valerie Amos has been reluctant to make that decision prior to exhausting all civilian options.
(UNOCHA, The Guardian).
Recalling the statement of Foreign Minister Dr. Tonio Borg at the Mediterranean Diplomacy Forum organised by the Parliamentary Assembly Mediterranean and the Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies on 1 April 2011
Malta cannot be neutral between life and death and in Libya’s case it is siding with life
Recognizing the significance of the statement made by Shahida Azfar, UNICEF MENA Regional Director in AMMAN on 5 April 2011
The current fighting in Libya is putting children at high risk [and that ….] their right to education, play, health and even survival are under serious threat
Recognizing that the spirit of resolution 1973 (2011) in condemning the gross and systematic violation of human rights is being undermined by a closely coordinated strategy of political and military deception, reminiscent of the Bosnian War of the 1990s
Recalling the asset freeze imposed by paragraph 17, 19, 20 and 21 of resolution 1970 (2011) on all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Libyan authorities
We the People of Malta, do hereby call on our elected representatives to provide, without further delay, full diplomatic recognition of the Majlis al-Watani and its representatives in Malta and to do all it can to further the aims of resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011).
· 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.
- 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.
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.
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