UN pulls some staff from Libya

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IOL pic may19 libya smoke above parliament Associated Press In this still image taken from video provided by the Libyan National Army, smoke rises over the parliament complex in Tripoli, Libya. Troops loyal to General Khalifa Haftar targeted Islamist lawmakers and officials at the building earlier this year. File picture: Libyan National Army, via AP

Tripoli - The United Nations has evacuated dozens of foreign staff from its mission in Libya due to a deteriorating security situation in the North African country, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

“They will return if the security situation improves,” said Samir Ghattas, spokesman for the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), without saying how many had left the country.

Libya has been in a state of near constant turmoil for three years, with successive governments struggling for legitimacy and unable to tame various armed groups that helped overthrow veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but are now defying state authority.

Ghattas gave no specific security reason for the evacuation.

Last month the UN mission, which is tasked with helping Libya to make the transition to democracy, drew sharp criticism over an initiative to bring together Libya's political factions.

The government complained that the world body had failed to consult with Libyan partners before announcing it. The UN initiative also drew anger and even threats on social media, prompting Tripoli to urge citizens not to resort to violence against UNSMIL or the UN special envoy to Libya, Tarek Mitri.

Two years ago, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt against the then-UN special envoy, Ian Martin. - Reuters

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