UN envoy warns against continuous influx of weapons to Libya

February 8, 2018

Head of UN Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salame on Wednesday confirmed that weapons continue to enter Libya in the absence of a unified Libyan authority protecting the borders.

Salame, also the special representative of the UN secretary-general, made his remarks following an expanded meeting with representatives of political and security elites of southern Libya to discuss problems facing their cities, especially border security.

'The continued illegal flow of weapons into the country should be dealt with firmly,' Salame told a news conference in Tripoli, adding that the borders are 'not monitored and there is no unified Libyan authority to protect it effectively.'

'The United Nations is working intensively and is in contact with many countries to prevent the entry of weapons to Libya,' Salame said.

The UN envoy did not reveal the countries with which the UN is communicating to stop the export of arms to Libya.

The Greek coast guards announced earlier in January that they seized a ship flying the flag of Tanzania and carrying materials used to make explosives while sailing to Libya.

The ship's cargo policy indicates that the cargo was loaded at the Turkish ports of Mersin and Iskenderun and was headed to Djibouti and Oman.

However, the Greek coast guards said preliminary investigation showed that the ship's captain had received orders from the ship's owner to sail to the Libyan city of Misurata, some 250 km east the capital Tripoli, to unload the entire cargo.

UN Security Council has been imposing arms embargo on Libya since 2011.

'Arms are widespread and if reports saying that there are more than 20 million weapons of the former regime are confirmed, it is dangerous. We believe that Libya does not need more weapons,' Salame said, regarding solutions to stop smuggling of arms into Libya and controlling the spread of weapons inside the country.

Salame expressed hope that any efforts to reduce the number of weapons in the country would succeed, and that as many militia members as possible could be integrated into civilian life.

Libya suffers from security chaos and a power struggle amid proliferation of weapons since the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011.

None of the successive Governments, since 2011, has been able to implement any integrated program for weapons collection or disarmament of militias, which often possess weapons and equipment more that the official security and military services.