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Unexploded bombs threaten civilians in Libya as truce "hangs by a thread"

UN REPRESENTATIVE to Libya Stephanie Williams has dismissed the UN-backed arms embargo as “a joke.”

The country is spiralling into an increasingly deadly situation as battle rages between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and General Khalifa Hiftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls large parts of the east.

After foreign ministers met in Munich on Sunday, Ms Williams warned: “The situation on the ground remains deeply troubling. The truce is holding only by a thread … the economic situation continues to deteriorate.”

In January a Berlin conference of world leaders agreed to stop sending weapons to the competing Libyan forces in a bid to de-escalate the situation and find a political solution.

But the embargo has been repeatedly breached, in particular by Turkey, which has sent equipment and thousands of jihadist fighters from the battlefields of Syria to support the Western-backed GNA.

“The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here,” Ms Williams said.

Talks on how to police the influx of weapons into Libya continued yesterday. They were marked by some reluctance to launch another naval mission in the region.

“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability,” Ms Williams insisted.

UN Mines Action Service spokesman Bob Seddon warned of the increased danger posed by “explosive remnants of war.”

He said: “It is estimated that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of uncontrolled munitions across Libya.”

Remnants of cluster munitions are alleged to have been found on the battlefields.

At least 900 civilian deaths have been attributed to explosives, the campaign group Action on Armed Violence said.

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