By Aimen Amzein.
Benghazi, 13 March 2016:
The Libyan army has said it will evacuate families trapped in Benghazi’s Gwarsha district, scene of . . .[restrict]continued fighting between itself and Islamist militants. The south Benghazi area, along with neighbouring Garyounis and Tika, are the militants’ last stronghold in the city.
The army says that it will supervise the evacuation but that all males over 15 years of age who leave will be investigated.
The announcement follows a call by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya for a ceasefire in Benghazi to ensure that civilians unable to leave areas where there is fighting can do so if they wish. In his call, the coordinator, Ali Al-Za’tari, specifically named Gwarsha as one area where families were trapped.
He pointed out that both sides in the fighting, the army as well as the militiants, had a legal obligation to respect international humanitarian human rights laws “at all times”.
For his part, Thinni government spokesman Hatem Oraibi questioned whether those being allowed to leave Gwarsha were civilians. He suggested that some would be militants trying to escape. Claiming that the army had told civilians some time ago to leave battle zones, he called on United Nations and all interested in combating terrorism to visit Benghazi and see for themselves how she it had become. [/restrict]