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Escalation in Libya’s ground fighting drives up civilian casualties in 2020 Q1: UNSMIL

UNSMIL reports that between 1 January and 31 March 2020, it documented at least 131 civilian casualties (64 deaths and 67 injuries) in Libya. This figure represents an overall increase in civilian casualties of 45 per cent compared to the preceding period in the fourth quarter of 2019, it adds. It reports that ground fighting was the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings, airstrikes, and improvised explosive devices.

The report says that the overall increase in civilian casualties was driven by the escalation of hostilities. It says that it is very concerned by the continued indiscriminate attacks and targeting of civilians in civilian populated areas and the increase in civilian casualties from the use of rockets and artillery, as well as from targeted killings by forces affiliated to the “Libyan National Army” (LNA).

All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law including complying with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack to prevent civilian casualties, said Acting Special Representative for the Secretary General and Head of UNSMIL, Stephanie Williams.

UNSMIL renewed its call for all parties to the conflict to immediately halt all military operations, and allow the authorities to respond to the threat of COVID-19.

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