Displaying items by tag: Libya
The Italian coastguard rescued 539 migrants crammed onto a decrepit fishing boat off the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa. A Médecins Sans Frontières nurse said the passengers included three women and several unaccompanied minors in the dangerously packed boat which would have travelled about 300 kilometres from the Libyan coast to Lampedusa. At least twenty of the migrants who were examined by medical personnel had scars from torture. ‘They had burn wounds, firearms wounds. They were very worn down, some were dehydrated.’ Local reports suggest some of them had been falsely imprisoned in Libya. Italian prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what may have happened. The nurse said she didn’t know how long the fishing boat had been at sea, but they had spent weeks or even months in Libya awaiting passage in traffickers’ boats in hopes of reaching Europe.
Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in turmoil since 2011 when Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising. In the first week of June the warring sides began new ceasefire talks in Libya. On 14 June the Turkish foreign minister and his Russian counterpart decided to put off the talks during a phone call; however, they said that it was important to prevent another failed ceasefire. Pray that there will be constructive positive talks for a lasting ceasefire without any more postponements. Pray for a spirit of unity to flow through all communication between the Iranian foreign minister, Turkish president Erdogan, and Russian president Putin. Pray also for an end to the heavy clashes that erupted recently despite a unilateral ceasefire proposal by Egypt.
The Berlin conference on Libya, attended by rival leaders in the civil war and many international leaders including Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdogan, concluded on 19 January. It set forth mechanisms for the establishment of a cease-fire committee which will meet regularly. However, few expect short-term changes on the ground in Libya, as a sustainable resolution remains elusive. In the days following the summit, observers said that Turkey’s increased involvement in the conflict has expanded its diplomatic clout in the nine-year conflict; it has positioned itself as a key broker in developments moving forward. Boris Johnson said that the aim of the conference was to ‘stop jockeying for position. The people of Libya have suffered enough. It is time for the country to move forward.’
Yemen - Five years of war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and Saudi/US backed government forces have created the world's worst humanitarian crisis. This Iran-Saudi rivalry threatens to grow as Houthis increase rocket attacks on Saudi Arabia. Syria - Assad, aided by Russia and Iran, has won the war. But killings in Idlib Province continue. Libya - A UN-recognised Government rules in Tripoli. A rival government controls much of the east. Each side has oil fields within its territory and its own central bank in this civil war. 1,000+ have been killed and 1.3 million people need urgent humanitarian help. Democratic Republic of Congo –25 years of violence has displaced 4.5 million people. A new government has not brought peace. Armed groups wreak havoc in a conflict fuelled by access to lucrative mineral reserves. A year-old Ebola outbreak has been declared a Global Health Emergency. Afghanistan –Washington is currently trying to convince the Taliban to engage directly with the Kabul government. There is a report today of a new Taliban reconciliation initiative.
There are about 37,900 Christians in Libya: most are migrant workers from abroad. Libyan Christians must keep their faith secret, so it is hard to know how many there are in this tribal, Islamic society. The government claims that ‘all Libyans are Muslims’. The anarchy and civil war mean that the rule of law barely exists, and Islamist extremists attack Christians freely. Leaving Islam is a betrayal, and being a woman makes you second class. Christian women in Libya are doubly vulnerable to persecution, targeted for their gender and their faith. Their suffering is invisible. They are ignored by the world around them. Open Doors want every woman to reach her God-given potential, and have launched a ‘Change’ campaign. For more info click the ‘More’ button.
Heavy fighting and airstrikes continue in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Three weeks ago, eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize it from the UN-recognised government of prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Over 200 people have been killed since fighting began, and the situation remains volatile for people living there. A resident told the BBC World Service, ‘We fear for our children, all they hear is loud explosions. Children are asking questions. Why is the school closed? Why are there no exams to sit? Some say they are not scared, and others are very frightened. Local authorities tell us when to stay at home if there is going to be trouble. We try to live a normal life, but some people cannot leave their houses, some cannot flee because the roads are closed, others have fled. Many have died or are injured when going out shopping. Bombing comes at any time, but mostly at night.’
Libya has been beset by chaos since Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011. During the uprising, anyone with a gun commanded respect. An estimated 1,700 armed groups emerged. Only these armed militias really wield power: it is felt that they often hold to ransom the politicians they supposedly back. Also, many are concerned that IS now has a presence there. On 4 April warlord Khalifa Haftar began an attack on Tripoli to wrest it from the UN-backed prime minister. So far at least 56 people have been killed and 266 wounded, according to the WHO. It said it had sent emergency teams to assist frontline hospitals; thousands of people had fled their homes. UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has called for a ceasefire to avoid what he described as a dramatic, bloody battle. Europe is split over how to respond: see
Maltese armed forces have boarded a merchant vessel that was allegedly hijacked by migrants after they were rescued off the coast of Libya. Five of the migrants have now been arrested, accused of forcing the captain of the oil tanker to cede control ‘through coercive action’ and ordering it to alter course for Italy. There were 108 migrants,77 men, 19 women and 12 children. A patrol vessel stopped the tanker from entering Maltese waters, then a special forces unit boarded it and handed over control of the ship to the captain. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s hardline interior minister, called the asylum seekers ‘pirates’. Italy’s ports are closed to rescued migrants. Human rights groups said they were escaping Libyan detention camps where they are beaten, raped and even sold as slaves, and should be directed towards a safe port.
Afghanistan, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, and Somalia are the five worst places for women to live, according to the 2019 World Watch List of ‘50 most difficult places to be a Christian’. The list reports that, in contexts which restrict women’s legal rights to equal representation, minority Christian communities are especially vulnerable to having their women and girls sexually attacked, forcibly married, subjected to domestic abuse, stripped of their inheritance, or even killed - all with impunity. Sexual violence is used as a means of power and control against Christian women. Discrimination based on stereotypical roles of men and women is one of the most widespread human rights violations worldwide. It can assume cruel forms and deprives many women and girls of their rights to life, freedom, and respect for human dignity. In Afghanistan, ‘women found to be married to new converts from Islam and sharing their husbands’ Christian faith, are punished by being raped. The same happens with children of converts who are at risk of child abuse.’
The younger brother of the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi will be extradited to Britain before the end of the year, according to Fayez al-Sarraj, the Libyan prime minister. Hashem Abedi, 20, was arrested in Libya shortly after his older brother blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017, killing 22 people. In an interview, Mr Fayez said that Libya was working with British authorities. He added: ‘I think from here to the end of this year we will finish all the legal procedure. We are fully cooperating because we understand the suffering of the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.’ Greater Manchester police said that counter-terrorism officers had been granted a warrant for Hashem’s arrest, and that the Libyan authorities were asked earlier this year to consider extraditing him to the UK. They believe they have enough evidence to charge him with the murder of 22 people, the attempted murder of others who were injured, and conspiracy to cause an explosion.