June 25, 2024

UN mission in Libya expresses concern over surge in abductions, detentions


The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (Manul) has raised alarm over the escalating cases of abductions, detentions, and enforced disappearances targeting citizens and public figures, including a former minister. In a statement released on Thursday, the UN expressed deep concern regarding the pervasive abductions, arbitrary arrests, and disappearances carried out by various security entities in Libya.

Faraj Abderrahmane Boumtari, the former Minister of Finance in the national unity government in 2018, was apprehended upon his arrival at Mitiga airport (Tripoli) on Wednesday and subsequently taken to an undisclosed location, according to Manul.

While local media reports attribute his arrest to agents from the Internal Security Agency (OSI), the authorities have yet to confirm this information. In response to Boumtari’s detention, members of his tribe, the Zouaya, have threatened to blockade oil terminals in the eastern part of the country unless the former minister is released.

Social media reports, as yet unverified by AFP, suggest that two major oil fields in the south, al-Charara and al-Fil, responsible for one-third of Libya’s oil production, have already been blockaded by protesters. The situation remains fluid.

In a separate incident, Manul revealed that five members of the High Council of State (HCE) were prevented from traveling to the same airport on Thursday, citing “information.” Mitiga airport, jointly operated by authorities and security organizations, grants both entities the power to restrict the movement of travelers entering or leaving the airport.

The UN mission has called upon Libyan authorities and security bodies to release all arbitrarily detained individuals and ensure independent investigations into these abductions. Manul warns that the mounting tensions are fostering a climate of fear, exacerbating inter-community and inter-tribal strife, and hindering the prospects of holding transparent, inclusive elections, as well as national reconciliation.

Since the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya, blessed with Africa’s richest oil reserves, has been mired in chaos. The country remains deeply divided between the eastern and western regions, with two rival governments vying for power. The internationally recognized government in Tripoli, led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, and the eastern-based government, supported by the influential Marshal Khalifa Haftar, have been engaged in a protracted power struggle for over a year.

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