TRIPOLI, Dec 28 — The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) strongly condemned the latest spate of violence to afflict the country as unidentified gunmen renewed attacks against Libyan oil installations leaving numerous storage tanks ablaze and further destabilizing the security situation in the war-torn nation.
“These attacks are in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions on Libya,” UNSMIL said in a statement issued as the Mission called for an “immediate halt to these attacks.”
“Libyan oil belongs to all the Libyan people and is the country’s economic lifeline,” the statement continued. “The Mission reiterates its call on all sides to safeguard Libya’s oil installations and to desist from any action that endangers this strategic national asset.”
According to reports, unknown assailants attacked Libyan oil installations at the Sidra oil terminal on Dec 25, igniting three storage tanks and killing more than 20 soldiers in the process.
The Sidra oil terminal lies in the country’s critical Oil Crescent area.
In addition, UNSMIL noted, another attack by unidentified gunmen on the same day claimed the lives of an undisclosed number of guards on duty at a power station near the city of Sirte, along the Mediterranean coast.
The attacks are the latest spell of violence to rattle the beleaguered nation following the beginning of its civil war in 2011 which resulted in the ouster of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
In western Libya, in the area of Warshafana, fighting between rival armed groups has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 100 people and injured 500 more in a spell of hostilities that lasted from late August to early October.
At the same time, recent fighting in the neighbouring Nafusa mountains has left 170 people dead. In addition to the casualties, the fighting has also caused a humanitarian crisis with at least 120,000 people forced to flee their homes, resulting in consequent shortages in both food and medical supplies.
Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Benghazi, an uptick in violence has seen 450 people killed since October as residents continue to face shortages in medical care. Moreover, upwards of 15,000 families – some 90,000 people – have been displaced.
Following the events in Sidra, the UN Mission warned of the environmental and economic consequences as a result of the destruction of the oil facilities, and urged the forces on the ground to cooperate in order to allow the fire crews to extinguish the blaze.
Moreover, it cautioned, the latest escalation of hostilities in the Oil Crescent area not only risks negatively impacting the country’s economy but also “further undermines” the ongoing efforts to convene a political dialogue which, in turn, “threatens to further widen the conflict.”
“UNSMIL urges Libya’s influential actors to make every effort to bring an end to this senseless cycle of violence,” the statement added.
“The Mission stresses that there can be no winners in the current conflict, and that the continuing violence in the Oil Crescent area, Benghazi and elsewhere in Libya will only deepen the rift among the Libyans and further destroy their country’s infrastructure and state institutions.”