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Secretary-General Spells Out Tasks for United Nations in Libya as Fighting Winds Down amid Efforts to Meet Humanitarian Needs


Briefing Security Council, He Stresses Need to Be Proactive, Effective

As fighting wound down in Libya and urgent humanitarian needs were met, the most important job for the United Nations was ensuring that multilateral, regional and international efforts complemented each other and were responsive to Libyan wishes, Secretary-Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today.

“In our response to the post-conflict challenge, we must be proactive and effective,” Mr. Ban told the 15-member body in a briefing on the strife-torn North African country. “Yet at the same time we must be sensitive to the complex needs and desires of the Libyan people themselves,” he said, adding that the United Nations response would prioritize rapid response and delivery. “We must act quickly and decisively to meet the considerable challenges ahead.”

Noting that several times in the past week he had discussed the world body’s role in the months ahead with Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council, he said the transitional authorities’ requests to the Organization so far had centred on public security, the rule of law, inclusive political dialogue, national reconciliation, the constitution-making and electoral processes, the extension of State authority, the restoration of public services, protecting human rights and economic recovery. Ian Martin, his Special Adviser, would continue to consult daily with Libyan stakeholders. “My aim is to get [United Nations] personnel on the ground absolutely as quickly as possible, under a robust Security Council mandate,” the Secretary-General said.

He reported that the National Transition Council appeared to be largely in control of Tripoli and other cities, although fighting continued in Sirte, Sabha, Zuwara and points south. “Yet I think we can now hope for a quick conclusion to the conflict,” he said. Meanwhile, while the humanitarian situation demanded urgent action, there were signs of progress, including the discovery of caches of necessities stockpiled by the previous regime and the re-opening of hospitals. The World Food Programme (WFP) had sent in a large convoy with water, medical supplies and blood donated by Tunisia, and the World Health Organization (WHO) was sending more medical supplies. Tripoli’s seaport was functioning and the international Organization for Migration (IOM) had evacuated some 1,000 third-country nationals, the Secretary-General said.

However, water supplies were critically short, he said, adding that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was working to repair pumping stations, although ongoing security concerns made the situation precarious amid demand for fuel and spare parts. Tanker trucks and other resources were being mobilized and it was likely that urgent international assistance on that matter would be requested in the coming days, said Mr. Ban, describing as “vitally important” the action by the Security Council Sanctions Committee to release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets for humanitarian assistance. The first $110 million had already been allocated, he said, urging the Council to remain responsive to funding requests by the transitional authorities.

Finally, the Secretary-General reported that in recent days there had been growing evidence of summary executions, torture and human rights violations, which the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya would examine. It was expected to submit its first oral update to the Human Rights Council on 19 September, he said.

Opening his remarks to the Council earlier, Mr. Ban updated members on the terrorist attack against the United Nations House in Abuja following the return from the Nigerian capital of Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and Gregory Starr, Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security.


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