Libyans Killed In Park Shelling

Five Libyans were killed and 12 were wounded from a shelling in Tripoli on May 31. The attack is attributed to forces within the Libyan National Army (LNA). Since April 2019, the LNA has been at war with the Government National Accord (GNA) –  the U.N. backed Libyan government. 

The GNA was put into power by the U.N. in 2015, after Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. Ever since, the LNA has been trying to take over Tripoli. The two governments have been risking their own citizens’ lives in order to gain control in the capital.

More than 217,000 people have been displaced within Libya and 1.3 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Amidst the COVID19 pandemic, Libyans have been seeking shelter within their homes, but the two governments and their foreign allies have made quarantine even more difficult.

In the first quarter of 2020, there had been 131 civilian casualties. The LNA is responsible for 81 percent of this total, according to the UN Support Mission in Libya

Both the LNA and GNA have weaponized resources. The GNA is accused of blocking off Internet and mobile services, as well as cutting off cooking gas and fuel in cities that have loyalty to the LNA.

The LNA has also allegedly caused electricity blackouts, as well as cutting off water for 20 days in the height of the pandemic. 

In January, the LNA imposed an oil blockade against the eastern oil ports in Libya. Oil is the backbone of Libya’s economy, and the closures have caused losses of more than $4 billion

Libya’s oil-richness has also been the reason for the number of foreign countries intervening in its civil war.

The GNA is backed by the United Nations, Turkey, Qatar, and Italy. The LNA is supported by Russia, Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. These countries have inserted themselves into Libya by providing their allies with weapons and drones. Turkey has sent Syrian recruits, along with its own soldiers – while Russia has sent mercenaries. 

Libyan civilians are dealing with an international pandemic and the aftermath of a civil war.  Foreign entities pouring arms and boots into the country of Libya, for their own interests, could lead to another proxy-war, similar to the Syrian conflict.

Such foreign countries could be using their resources to help Libyans to establish a central government, but instead, are powered by their interest in money from oil. Libyan land does not just hold a large amount of oil, it is home to almost 7 million people. Libyans should not be deemed less important than a resource. 

Maria Kuiper