By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 18 December 2016:
The UN has sent congratulations to the Bunyan Marsous Operations Room (BM) on its defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Sirte but warned that the struggle against terrorism was not over.
“Libyans should remain vigilant in the face of terrorism,” UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler said.
Fears by numerous officials in Libyan that many IS supporters managed to escape from Sirte and could regroup elsewhere.
“I call on Libyans to seize this opportunity to promote national reconciliation and push ahead with the implementation of the interim security arrangements,” Kobler said. “This requires the integration and rehabilitation of fighters and weapons’ collection to give way to a professional security apparatus with a unified command.”
Nonetheless, the victory in Sirte was “a major step forward in liberating Libya from terrorism, ending the days of the Islamic State controlling territory in the country,” a statement from UNSMIL said.
“Defeating terrorism throughout Libya benefits all Libyans,” stated Kobler, paying tribute to those Libyans who had died in the fight against IS.
“My sincere condolences to their families and I wish those injured a speedy recovery,” he added.
The immediate rebuilding of Sirte was now the priority, he said.
The Presidency Council had to put forward a Sirte governance, stabilisation and security plan. Mines needed to be cleared, the residents needed to be able to return safely, there had to be humanitarian aid for the town and treatment for those wounded in the battle for it.
Promises of foreign funding are being made to rebuild Sirte which has become the forth place alongside Benghazi, Kikla and Obari to be designated the reconstruction priorities for the internationally-backed Stabilisation Facility for Libya. A sum of $7.6 million was announced to rebuild its badly damaged Ibn Sina Hospital along with reconstruction of four health centres, mobile clinics, ambulances and two schools.
This, though, is a drop in the ocean compared to Sirte’s financial needs. Just over five years ago, when the then prime minister Mahmoud Jibril estimated the cost at that point of rebuilding Libya at $400 billion, he said that Sirte was the biggest single item in the figure.
Four and a half years ago, it was agreed that 8,000 homes had to be rebuilt. The cost for that alone was put at half a billon dinars.
As to governance for Sirte, it has already become evident that problems are already emerging. The town’s municipal councillors last week elected a mayor, Mukhtar Al-Madani. However, he is seen by BM as too close to Khalifa Hafter and in a counter move it appointed Brigadier Ahmed Abu Shahma as the town’s military governor.