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  • A Tripoli-based government soldier fires a rifle as other fighter takes a rest in Tripoli, Libya, May 12, 2019.

    A Tripoli-based government soldier fires a rifle as other fighter takes a rest in Tripoli, Libya, May 12, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 May 2019

The French government is allegedly speaking with both contending sides to promote a peaceful solution to the Libyan civil war.

France's President Emmanuel Macron intends to have a meeting with Marshall Khalifa Haftar, who leads an ongoing military assault on the Tripoli-based National Accord Government (GNA), to seek a peaceful, political and lasting solution to the Libyan civil war, as reported by the French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

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During his speech before the National Assembly Tuesday, the French minister affirmed that his government is concerned about the failure of United Nations road map, which could not be executed due to the military offensive launched on Tripoli on April 4.

"That is why the President of the Republic wished to meet with [the contending sides] in order to support the United Nations initiative," Le Drian said, adding that it is necessary "to encourage all parties to take the negotiation path, stop the fire immediately and reach a political solution."

Since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intervention against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has remained a fractured country in endless unrest and a power struggle between different factions and competing governments, the last chapter of which began with the military offensive against the Tripoli's Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj.

On May 8, Macron and Al-Sarraj held a meeting in Paris in which the Libyan PM accused Paris of supporting his rival and called for an unconditioned ceasefire. The French president, however, may soon receive Haftar, although "nothing is confirmed" yet.

"France has always believed that both Al-Sarraj and Haftar are unavoidable to reach a political agreement and maintains a dialogue with both," a French diplomatic source told the African news agency Adiac, which reports that Macron has kept phone calls with Haftar since his offensive began.

Regarding the possibility of a ceasefire, Adiac indicated that Marshal Haftar would like to maintain his current positions, a proposal which is rejected by Al-Sarraj who calls for a return to the positions that the military had before April 4.

Despite attempts to take control of Tripoli by force, there is a military and political stalemate. While the Haftar's army has managed to keep Tripoli under siege, daily combats in the city's southern suburbs have so far failed to tilt the scales in favor of either side. However, the Libyan civil war has so far left 454 dead, more than 2,154 injured and thousands of people displaced.

Several United Nations agencies expressed Tuesday their concern about the worsening humanitarian situation in the Tripoli region.

"Growing insecurity in Tripoli endangers the internally displaced and migrants as armed clashes are entering their second month," said Joel Millman, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman. In addition to prior combat sites, air strikes and artillery have been recently carried out near the Tripoli International Airport.

"Thousands of civilians move daily to safer places in cities along the coast and the Nafusa Mountains," Charlie Yaxley, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNHCR) spokesman said and explained that "food and medicine are limited and travel around the city is difficult."

Since April, clashes and bombings have displaced more than 66,000 people within Libya or outside the country. Of this amount, some 18,210 people are receiving basic relief through a "joint rapid response mechanism," which includes also the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF).

The United Nations is also concerned about the plight of more than 3,300 Libyan immigrants and refugees living in detention centers.

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