Representatives from the warring Tebu and Tuareg ethnic minorities signed a peace agreement in the southern city of Sebha on Saturday, after a three-week escalation in the fighting saw 60 killed, including women and children.
Residents hope that Saturday’s peace deal, which was brokered by southern and north-western tribes, will be a permanent resolution to the crisis, which has also seen bouts of deadly clashes erupt in Ubari some 200km west of Sebha and Kufra, to the east.
In the agreement hundreds of internally-displaced residents of the Tiwari district, near to Sebha’s airport, are permitted to return home as of Sunday and detainees held by both sides must be released.
“In the event that the agreement is breached, that party will be held politically, legally and morally responsible,” the document read.
“Signatories to the agreement will continue in their efforts to make arrangements for a final agreement,” it added.
The main mediators included the western and southern Libyan tribes of Gadhadfa, Warshefana, Hasawna, Rabaiee and Almahameed together with members of Misrata’s Third Force, currently based in Sebha and Amazigh elders from the Nafusa Mountains.
Mohamed Musa, deputy leader of the Tuareg Social Council, told Libya Herald their main demands were that non-residents of Tiwari vacate the area, the Tebu hand over checkpoint at the entry of the district and that an independent peacekeeping force be stationed in the city to maintain the terms of the truce.
Saturday’s agreement followed a precursory humanitarian ceasefire penned last week which called on all hostilities in the city’s Cairo neighborhood to stop. The temporary document, signed by both warring factions, promised to open the main roads and to allow the evacuation of wounded people to nearby hospitals.
As Saturday’s peace agreement was made public, Sebha’s main hospital – which had been attacked multiples times amid the clashes – released a statement demanding urgent security protection saying its medical staff had been repeatedly threatened. The healthcare centre, which usually treats Tuareg fighters as the Tebu injured are taken to Murzuk’s hospital, warned a few days ago that it was running out of medical supplies including anesthetic and would only have enough medicines to last until the end of the month.
It followed desperate pleas from frustrated Sebha residents for an end to the fighting, which has seen whole neighborhoods flattened and civilians killed. At a meeting on Thursday, they demanded Third Force stop gunmen from entering the city centre and that all vehicles with tinted windows be banned, Libya Herald added in their report.
The United Nations has also joined calls for peace, releasing statement on Friday demanding that political actors “move quickly to reach a political settlement.” and that all sides “exercise maximum restraint”.
The UN Support Mission in Libya also condemned a “sharp rise” in criminal activities – including murder and kidnapping for ransom – in the southern city, which together with the fighting has contributed to the high death toll.