Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Libya: Tense conditions prevail in Libyan town after deadly ethnic clashes

Young children play on swings in a square in Zawiya, Libya. UN Photo/Iason Foounten

UN - 27 February 2012
The situation remains tense in the south-eastern Libyan town of Kufra, where the death toll from recent inter-ethnic clashes is at least 100 and half the population has fled, the United Nations reported today.

A team comprising staff from the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Humanitarian Country Team has wrapped up an assessment visit to Kufra, and found that the ceasefire brokered by local authorities last week is still holding, according to a press release from UNSMIL.

More than 100 people are now thought to have died in Kufra as a result of clashes between the Toubu and Zwai tribal groups earlier this month in the desert town.

Long-simmering tensions between the two ethnic communities erupted on 12 February in Kufra, which is also a key staging point for migrants making their way between sub-Saharan Africa and the north of the continent.

UNSMIL reported today that as much as half of Kufra’s population has sought refuge outside the town, while some 200 third-country migrants are waiting to be moved from the area.

The UN and Libyan humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance to Kufra residents, supplying food, medicines, mattresses, blankets and hygiene kits. The mission said more supplies will arrive soon from existing stocks in the country and elsewhere.

UNSMIL reiterated its call on the Toubu and Zwai to resolve their dispute peacefully and said it would continue to help Libya’s interim national authorities to pursue reconciliation efforts.