Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Friday for forces allied with one of Libya’s two competing governments to allow aid and medical workers into the Old City quarter of Derna, in Eastern Libya.
HRW cites credible reports of civilians being “trapped there within the past two weeks without access to food, water, or medical care.”
Libyan National Army (LNA) leader General Khalifa Hiftar has been fighting a local armed group named the Derna Protection Force since May 2018 in the coastal city of more than 100,000 residents. It is alleged that since then, “LNA forces have detained Derna residents at their homes, and at checkpoints and other public places.”
HRW claims, “LNA forces have also deliberately damaged homes, including by arson, or turned them over to LNA supporters after their owners had fled, according to sources and UN reporting that cites claims by people who fled Derna.”
The organization further calls for LNA forces to permit all citizens trapped in Derna to be allowed to flee and for a full list of the names of those detained during the fighting. It is estimated that hundreds of people have been taken into custody during the conflict and HRW seeks to have LNA release the location of all detainees and the legal basis for their detainment to ensure due process before a judge.
According to UN investigators, “approximately 1,000-2,000 families have been displaced either to neighbourhoods inside Derna or to other Mantikas (Regions) in Libya.”