Spotlight: Libyan capital witnesses mounting displacement amid deadly conflict

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-07 19:55:13|Editor: Xiaoxia
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A displaced girl is seen in a school where hundreds of families are seeking refuge after fleeing their homes in Tripoli, Libya, on May 7, 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, a total of 432 people have been killed, 2,069 others injured and 50,000 displaced in the fighting between the UN-backed Libyan government and the east-based army in and around the capital Tripoli. (Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien)

by Mahmoud Darwesh

TRIPOLI, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Violent clashes have been going on for about a month between the east-based Libyan army and the UN-backed government in and around the capital Tripoli, as the army aims to take over the city.

The conflict started in early April when the army commander Khalifa Haftar launched a military campaign to take over Tripoli, sparking a government counter campaign against the army's plans.

The fighting between the rival parties has been concentrated in southern Tripoli, where many civilians were killed, injured and displaced.

"This is the fiercest and geographically most significant combat axis. If it falls, it means the opening of an easy access for Haftar's forces into Tripoli. Therefore, we defend and repel any attacks from the enemy," Abdannaser Mehoub, a government field commander, told Xinhua.

"We are stationed here and work to stop their progress. We have lost good fighters trying to fight those attempts to take our positions a few days ago, but we will not back down or allow them to enter Tripoli," Mehoub said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the fighting has so far killed 432, injured 2,069, and displaced more than 50,000 others.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj said on Thursday that there will be no cease-fire until the rival army forces "return to where they came from."

However, Haftar ordered his army to continue the military action in Tripoli "until terrorism is eliminated."

The UN Support Mission in Libya on Sunday called for an extendable one-week truce in Tripoli, in order to "allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and to ensure the freedom of movement for civilians during this truce."

Munir al-Sukni, director of a charity, said continued forced displacement would cause many problems in Tripoli, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

"We provide food for the camp and assist the Red Crescent to provide services for the displaced. This mission is carried out throughout the day," al-Sukni told Xinhua.

He pointed out that the number of displaced people is increasing daily, "which causes great pressure to absorb such a large number of people."

Mohamed al-Mizoghi left home with his family in southern Tripoli, fleeing the fighting near their house.

"We stayed for two weeks amid clashes. We couldn't even sleep at night. After that, the clashes started getting closer. We were then told to leave for our safety," al-Mizoghi told Xinhua.

"This camp is not perfect, but it is still better for us in these difficult circumstances," he said, expressing hope for the conflict to end soon.

Some schools in the city have been used to accommodate displaced people, as classes have been suspended because of the fighting.

According to Othman Abduljalil, deputy head of the government's Crisis Management Committee, some 55,000 displaced persons have been registered so far.

Abduljalil confirmed that 40 reception centers and 27 schools have been used to house the displaced, adding the committee is ready to receive 11,000 more people.

Libya has been suffering escalating violence and political division ever since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011.

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