By Gabriel Harrison.
Tunis, 19 September 2017:
UN troops will be guarding UNSMIL’s premises in Tripoli but the organisation has insisted that their duties will involve purely security.
An UNSMIL spokesman was responding to continuing media reports that there were to be up to 200 “Blue Berets” in Libya. “With the gradual return of the UN staff to Libya we will need to also boost our security personnel to protect the staff and the UN premises. That is all. This will also happen gradually”.
The spokesman insisted to this newspaper that the security forces would only be there to guard the UN mission. “They are in no way peacekeeping troops. UNSMIL is a political mission and not a peacekeeping mission, therefore having blue helmets is not in our mandate.
“The security personnel will not engage in any way or form with Libyans” said the spokesman, adding, “Outside the premises, Libyan authorities are responsible for our security. We have repeatedly affirmed our commitment to Libyan sovereignty and that has not changed”.
Earlier this month the new UNSMIL chief Ghassan Salamé had himself pointed out that that the UN Security Council mandate was for a political mission and that peace-keeping was not part of UNSMIL’s brief.