Libya: Rival forces agree to protect water network


Posted – 30th August 2021


The United Nations on Thursday welcomed the creation of a joint security force from rival sides in Libya to secure the country’s water network amid sabotage threats. “It is a very significant step forward towards the unification of the military institution and the country,” the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the water authority shut down a huge network of pipelines known as the Great Man-Made River for a week before restoring supplies.

The water network was closed after loyalists of Abdullah al-Senussi, the jailed brother-in-law of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, threatened to sabotage it unless he was released. Senussi, jailed in Tripoli, was sentenced to death in 2015 for his role in the attempted suppression of the 2011 uprising that toppled Kadhafi.

The Great Man-Made River was one of the major projects of Kadhafi during his four decades in power. It brings water from underground aquifers deep in the Sahara desert in the south of Libya to settlements on the Mediterranean coast in the north.

Oil-rich Libya was gripped by violence after the 2011 uprising and split between the two rival camps, backed by foreign powers. In October the rival sides signed a ceasefire in Geneva and an interim administration was set up in March to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in December.

The joint security force comprises combatants linked to the government based in Tripoli and fighters loyal to east-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, UNSMIL said. UNSMIL head Jan Kubis said the creation of the new joint force “will not only ensure the security” of the water supply, but also “pave the way for further confidence-building measures” as Libya seeks to achieve reunification.


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