Only 1 in 10 chance of peace in Libya, says UN expert

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A busy day on Mizran Street in central Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Photo: UNSMIL/Abbas Toumi

Civilians and human rights defenders in Libya continue to bear the brunt of violence amid signs that the number of fighters in the country may have reached 300,000, the UN said Wednesday.

Claudio Cordone, who heads the justice unit of the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said that not one war but several wars were happening throughout the country and that armed individuals "rule everything".

The rights chief confirmed to journalists in Geneva that the UN is pursuing negotiations with the principal warring factions before condemning human rights violations on all sides which "do not tolerate any dissent".

Daniel Johnson has more:

In a bleak assessment of the situation in Libya, Claudio Cordone said that there was a chance for peace but "10 chances (that) things might not work".

The justice chief for the UN mission in Libya said there were moderates "willing to reach an agreement" with negotiators.

Individuals in "key capitals" were "desperate" for an end to the fighting, he said.

Cordone added that the only remedy was to put pressure on regional powers with influence on the warring factions as the UN-led negotiations continue in Morocco.

He cited Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey as having "potentially more influence on and leverage" on the warring sides.

These broadly comprise Libya Dawn militias in the west and a government with Western backing in the east, based in the city of Baida.

On the issue of human rights, the UN official said that oppression had increased in the country four years after the revolution that ousted dictator Muammar Ghadaffi.

"Libya today is reaching its most oppressive since the revolution; both sides, and each camp is composed of a number of militias and so on, do not tolerate any dissent, any criticism in the areas they control."

"Everybody is exposed" and women were "doubly at risk", Cordone said, citing recent murders including that of activist Entissar al-Hassaeri in Tripoli last month.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1"18

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