Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Spoke by video link to a Security Council meeting on the situation in Libya. (UN Photo/Kim Haughton)
Libya’s future prosperity and stability depends on the international community further strengthening and unifying its efforts on behalf of the whole country, as well as Libyans themselves “seizing the window of opportunity” that is before them to ensure peace, the head of the United Nations mission there said today.
“We need to act; we need to act together and we need to act now,” said Ghassan Salamé, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), addressing the Security Council for the first time since he took up the post last month.
Reporting on a wide-ranging series of meetings – throughout Libya and to Egypt, Algeria and Italy – Mr. Salamé that all would benefit from a stable, peaceful and reconciled Libya.
And yet, despite a nearly two-year-old Political Agreement, Libya itself remains fraught with political divisions, mired in conflict and a stumbling economy. Saying that in his talks with the Libyan people “a clear picture is emerging,” Mr. Salamé noted that insecurity, frustration, political dysfunction and economic despair are among the raft of challenges the country faces.
Despite its relative oil wealth, he said, endless cuts in utilities; sporadic violence across the country and political stalemate; were preventing the country from fulfilling it’s potential.
“There is obviously a serious problem of governance that can hardly wait to be addressed,” Mr. Salamé stressed, warning that people’s welfare is a fundamental element to in Libya’s future stability and in that regard, unless the economic challenges are addressed – “and soon” – the country’s humanitarian crisis would deepen.
In addition, he said that irregular migration and the revenue it generates for smuggler networks had proven to be a “direct threat” to stability in parts of Libya, even as hundreds of thousands of migrants who are stuck in the country often “suffer abuses and detention in inhuman conditions.”
While he noted some positive steps, including improvements in the security situation in Tripoli and elsewhere, and a marked increase in oil production which allowed the Presidency Council and the Central Bank to work together to deliver a budget, “the key to lasting stability requires addressing the overarching political situation,” namely the status of the two-year-old Libyan political Agreement; the prospect of adopting a new constitution; and the possibility for fresh elections.
“The UN stands willing and able to act in the best interests of all Libyans at equal distance from all parties,” Mr. Salamé told the Council, explaining that he very much hoped that with the trust of Libyan partners and the confidence of the regional organizations and concerned Member States, “we are able to strengthen and unify our collective efforts and together restore Libya to its rightful place in the family of nations, one united stable, and prosperous country.”