News / Africa

UN Chief Dispatching Special Envoy to Libya

U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon (file)
U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon (file)
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Margaret Besheer

The U.N. Secretary-General says he will dispatch his new special envoy for Libya to that country in the coming days. Ban Ki-moon said Friday that stopping the violence is his top priority.

Ban said the fighting between the government forces of Moammar Gadhafi and anti-government rebels is escalating and the death toll is mounting daily.

"Civilians have borne the brunt of violence; increasingly they are being targeted,” Ban said. “My message has been strong and consistent: the violence must stop; humanitarian aid must get to those in need; those responsible for violence against civilians will be held accountable. A peaceful resolution must be found."

Ban said he will travel himself to the region late next week to meet officials in Egypt and Tunisia, where over the past three weeks more than 200,000 mostly migrant workers have fled to escape the violence in Libya. Those two nations have also recently undergone dramatic changes of government brought on by protesters’ demands.

Earlier this week, Ban’s office announced he had appointed a former Jordanian foreign minister as his special envoy for Libya. The secretary-general told reporters Abdel Ilah Al-Khatib and a team including senior humanitarian officials, U.N. political officers and officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will go to the Libyan capital Tripoli early next week.

"Their objective will be to assess the situation on the ground and undertake broad consultations with the Libyan authorities on the immediate humanitarian, political and security situation,” he added. "I have instructed Al-Khatib to convey, in no uncertain terms, the concerns of the United Nations and the international community as expressed in Security Council resolutions."

The new envoy joined the Secretary-General in addressing the press Friday. He was asked if he would also meet with members of the opposition National Transitional Council during his trip.

"I will try to learn as much as possible about the details of the situation on the ground, and I am prepared to meet all parties concerned,” Al-Khatib said. “I think that is essential in order to know the positions and the views of all parties."

After Al-Khatib’s Libya trip, he will meet Ban in the region to brief him and discuss the U.N.’s course of action going forward.

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