Libyans urged to resist extremism in wake of mass beheadings

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Refugees in Benghazi face an even more uncertain future amid rising insecurity

Refugees in Benghazi face an even more uncertain future amid rising insecurity. © UNHCR/L.Dobbs

The "brutal" mass beheading of 21 Christians in Libya must not be allowed to make the security situation any worse, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned.

In his statement Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein calls on Libyans to resist extremism.

The UN refugee agency meanwhile has said that people smuggling gangs have profited from the increasing lawlessness as refugees continue to cross the Mediterranean. Daniel Johnson reports.

Libyans have been urged to unite against extremists by the UN's top human rights official after the beheading of 21 Christians there, as fears grow for the safety of foreign workers and migrants.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described the murder of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians and another Christian man in recent days as a "vile crime".

UN spokesperson Rupert Colville briefed journalists in Geneva on the killings, which have been attributed to Islamic State militants:

"The brutal murder of these men and the ghastly attempt to justify and glorify it in a video should be roundly condemned by everyone, and in particular by the people of Libya themselves…"

The beheadings come amid increasing lawlessness linked to what the UN describes as "rampant violence" in Libya where the elected government has only limited control.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has said that the fighting has left foreign workers and asylum seekers "dangerously exposed".

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said that smugglers have cashed in on the insecurity and are charging refugees up to $1,000 per person for passage across the Mediterranean.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1"00

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