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IRC warns Libya is at “breaking point” ahead of Sunday’s Berlin conference in call to put those caught up in conflict at the heart of the talks

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Sunday’s Berlin Libya conference must breathe new life into the UN-led peace process, kick-off stabilisation efforts and ensure the violence stops.

Berlin, Germany, January 17, 2020 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) today warned that Libya is at “breaking point” and called on all those attending Sunday’s conference in Berlin to put the needs of those caught up in this conflict at the very heart of the talks.

The IRC said that Sunday’s Berlin Libya conference must breathe new life into the UN-led peace process, kick-off stabilization efforts and ensure the violence stops if life is to change for people on the ground.

With ceasefire talks stalling, the need to gather all the key parties to the negotiating table is urgent and so Sunday’s gathering is welcome. Where previous talks have failed, the IRC calls on the European Union to show global leadership on a crisis burgeoning on its backyard. Europe and its Member States must use this opportunity to support the UN-led process as the best chance for peace.

Thomas Garofalo, International Rescue Committee’s Libya Director, said:

“The International Rescue Committee can testify to the growing human cost of Libya’s unraveling first hand. With over 100 staff in Tripoli and Misrata, the IRC continues to assist people caught up in this urgent crisis.

“However, in the past weeks violence has forced us to temporarily suspend some of our operations, which provided life-saving protection and health services to those displaced by conflict.

“The violence in Libya has to stop. We welcome the recent steps taken towards a ceasefire agreement but the Libyan people live in constant fear the situation can deteriorate again at any time. To ensure the truce lasts, all parties to the conflict must immediately stop the violence, reach a ceasefire agreement and commit to enforcing it.

“The EU must make every effort to use its diplomatic leverage to place the ceasefire back into the UN framework and ensure the enforcement of the arms embargo, which otherwise fuels the conflict.

“We have seen the outcomes of global inaction in Yemen and Syria, where local conflicts escalated into internationalized proxy wars, ushering in unprecedented humanitarian suffering. Libya cannot share the same fate.

“Any political response to the crisis must put the lives of people trapped in Libya first.

“We call upon all parties gathered in Berlin to ensure that all civilians, including migrants and refugees, are protected in line with International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.

“We condemn all attacks on schools, health facilities, any other civilians and civilian infrastructure. Respect for humanitarian principles should be a non-negotiable condition of any outcome from the Berlin conference.

“The Berlin Conference must kick-start the UN-led peace process as the best short-term chance for political stability and peace since the conflict that first escalated in April.

“Only through a coordinated strategy that bolsters the UN’s diplomatic efforts can the EU and its Member States promote their commitments to protect civilians. If Berlin fails, the people in Libya are at risk of losing all hope - and it is they who will pay the highest price.”


Joanna Nahorska
+32 474 160 470

IRC Global Communications
+1 646 761 0307