Italy PM calls for Libya ceasefire after meeting with Qatari deputy PM

War is not the way to solve the situation in Libya, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters after meeting with the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani.

At least 18,000 civilians have been displaced by fighting in Libya since the eastern-based military forces led by General Khalifa Haftar launched a military operation last week attempting to take over western Libya, the capital Tripoli in particular, where the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, which is backed by the United Nations (UN), is based.

“We want an immediate cease-fire and we hope for the withdrawal of the (Haftar) forces,” Conte told reporters in a televised press conference. “We believe that dialogue is the only plausible and sustainable way forward…and we are working towards an inclusive solution under the aegs of the UN”.

“It is now clear that it’s not enough for all the Libyan players to be involved in the search for this solution, but members of the international community must also be involved,” Conte said, adding he will meet with Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maitig from the Sarraj government in Rome Monday evening.

“It would be reductive and simplistic to paint a picture of the Libyan situation that only includes Haftar and Sarraj,” Conte continued. “There are foreign global players that are weighing strongly in this situation.”

The Italian prime minister went on to say that “we must avert what could be a devastating humanitarian crisis, not only for the obvious effects it would have on Italy and the European Union, since we are located a few kilometers from the Libyan coast, but in the interests of the Libyan people.”

In its latest report dated April 14, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that 48 casualties have been confirmed, with “frontline and referral hospitals in Tripoli and surrounding areas are receiving daily casualties (which) are expected to increase further given the continued use of air strikes and heavy artillery.”

Over 2,500 civilians fled hostilities in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of people displaced to approximately 18,250, OCHA said.

Italy, who backs the Sarraj government, opened an embassy in Tripoli in 2017 and has a 300-member military task force stationed there.