Libya Protect Civilians under Siege in Derna
Amid reports of an escalating humanitarian crisis in the besieged Libyan city of Derna, Amnesty International is calling on the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, and all parties involved in the fighting to urgently open humanitarian corridors to give impartial assistance and save the lives of civilians still trapped in the city as the army advances.
Derna residents are bracing themselves for a bloody street battle as the LNA advances its control over the city. Residents say they fear trying to flee from the city because the LNA is known to profile, arbitrarily detain and disappear people they perceive as opponents, especially young men.
“We are receiving horrifying reports from Derna, where a prolonged siege and heavy fighting have left the city on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. Blockade tactics are being used to cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary men, women and children, who are now surrounded, with dwindling food, water and medical supplies, and no way out of this desperate situation,” said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“With the LNA escalating its assault on the city, all the parties have an obligation under international humanitarian law to facilitate unimpeded access for impartial humanitarian relief, including medical supplies and food, and to allow civilians to flee the fighting without fear of arbitrary detention, harassment, intimidation and unlawful killings.”
Derna, a port city in the east of Libya, has been under siege since July 2017. Fighting has intensified since mid-May as the LNA has sought to consolidate its power and expel the Derna Security Force, a recently renamed armed group previously known as the Derna Shura Council. The city has also experienced intensive aerial and artillery bombardment and ferocious ground fighting which has reached the centre of the city.
(Source: Amnesty International)