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Libya closer to civil war that could lead to permanent division - UN

NEW YORK, May 21 (KUNA) -- UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Libya Ghassan Salama affirmed Tuesday after 42 days of attacks by Khalifa Haftar forces on Tripoli, leaving much to death and destruction, Libya is closer to a civil war that could lead to a permanent division of the country.
During a Security Council session on Libya, Salama said "clashes in Tripoli resulted in killing 460 people, including 29 civilians and more than 2,400 injured, mostly civilians, while more than 75,000 civilians were forced to flee, most of them women and children." Salama added "around 100,000 remained trapped in confrontation areas." The UN official highlighted previous period in the capital, including calmness, security and stability enjoyed by the people as a result of the political process and enthusiasm towards national reconciliation.
Salama regretted failure of political process and civilians taking up arms after attacks on the capital.
Salama expressed his deep concern about the sharp increase in kidnappings, disappearances and random arrests since the beginning of the current conflict.
"At least seven officials have been subjected to detention or abduction in eastern and western Libya and their fate is still unknown," Salama said.
The Special Representative noted, "the political process cannot ignore the current war as if it has not happened and the United Nations must play a neutral mediator role that should work to correct the direction in order to close the deep gap of mistrust that prevailed." A better future for Libya is still possible, but there is an urgent need to move now before battles moves into densely populated neighborhoods of the capital, which in turn will require coordinated and immediate action by the international community, Salama said.
"Unless international and regional actors realize that Libya is not just a prize for the strongest but a country of 6.5 million people who deserve peace and have the right to choose their way forward collectively, Libya's future will be bleak," Salama added.
The UN official called on all Libyans to stop the fighting and hostilities and a return to a comprehensive political process led by the United Nations. (end) asf.mb