LIBYA: Pope Francis Calls for Peace and Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

VATICAN, JUNE 19, 2020 (CISA)-Pope Francis has appealed to rivals in the Libyan civil war to seek peace, urging the international community to facilitate talks and protect refugees and migrants who he noted were victims of cruelty.

“I urge international bodies and those who have political and military responsibilities to restart, with conviction and resolve, the search for a path towards an end to violence, leading to peace, stability and unity in the country…I also pray for the thousands of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons in Libya…The health situation (of Covid-19) has aggravated the already precarious conditions in which they find themselves, making them more vulnerable to forms of exploitation and violence,” he said.

In an address during Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Corpus Christi Sunday June 14, the Pope said that he was following the dramatic situation in Libya with great apprehension and sorrow.

He called on the international community to shield refugees and asylum seekers from the cruelty they are experiencing especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There is cruelty. I call on the international community to please take their plight to heart, identifying pathways and providing means to provide them with the protection they need, a dignified condition and a hopeful future. Brothers and sisters, we all have responsibility in this. No one can consider themselves dispensed from this,” he said.

The conflict among rival factions seeking control of Libya since  2014, is mostly between the House of Representatives, elected in 2014 with a low turnout (18%), relocated to Tobruk, which appointed Marshal Khalifa Haftar as commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army with the mission of restoring its sovereignty over the whole of Libyan territory and the Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, based in the capital Tripoli and established after failed military coups and the relocation of the House of Representatives to Tobruk.