Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Libya’s Children: On-Demand Fuel for Tripoli’s War

Libya’s Children: On-Demand Fuel for Tripoli’s War

Sunday, 19 May, 2019 - 08:45
Libyan children dressed in military fatigues attend a demonstration in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi calling for military forces to re-capture the southern city of Sirte from ISIS (AFP)
Cairo- Jamal Jawhar
Selfie pictures of young fighters on the frontlines in Tripoli, Libya, showed the extent to which fighters in the southern suburbs have relied on minors pushing them towards their death.

Videos circulating the social media showed young boys on the frontlines using firearms.

Since the launch of the battle between the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the forces loyal to head of the Presidential Council, Fayiz al-Sarraj, the two forces exchanged accusations about the use of children in the battle.

Colonel Mohammed Qanouno, a spokesman for the forces of Government of National Accord (GNA), announced that a number of LNA prisoners under the age of 16 were captured, adding that some were released.

The army denied using children, saying recruitment in the military has rules and legal age.

Misrata militias, clashing with the National Army, are relying on young children previously trained during Sirte Battle, 450 km east of Tripoli, before its liberation from ISIS control at the end of 2016.

A civil activist from Misrata told Asharq Al-Awsat that the majority of the city's young people of all ages are being pushed to the war.

The activist, who declined to be named for security reasons, said both parties were using young people in combat, and this method has been used by armed militias in Tripoli for years, pointing out that three children were buried in Misrata during the past week.

In the face of this situation, the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said that it would provide awareness on unexploded ordnance to nearly 400,000 Libyan children and their families in different cities.

Over the past years, children in Tripoli have been in danger due to the heavy fighting between militias, which prompted UNICEF to issue a warning saying half a million children in the capital are at immediate risk, while more than 2.6 million children need help in Libya.

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Geert Cappelaere said last year that more children were facing multiple grave child rights violations and “more children are reportedly being recruited to fight, putting them in immediate danger.”

The number of displaced people from Tripoli’s areas of conflict reached about 70,000 citizens since April 4, while some families and their children are still searching for a safe place.

Last week, German Ambassador to Libya, Oliver Owcza confirmed that his country had provided €3 million in support for activities of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office, enabling them to provide effective protection to refugees and displaced persons in Libya.

For its part, the ministerial committee for displaced persons began collecting information on the displaced citizens from areas of clashes. The committee discussed the development of the database system for the displaced, in cooperation of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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