By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
At least eight mass graves have reportedly been discovered in Libya, according to the United Nations.
In a statement on its official Twitter account on Thursday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said that it “notes with horror” reports on the discovery of the graves, the majority of them in Tarhuna, a town 65 kilometers southeast of the capital, Tripoli.
The UN mission also said that it welcomed a decision by the Libyan Justice Minister to investigate the situation.
It called on investigators to “undertake the work aimed at securing the mass graves, identifying the victims, establishing causes of death and returning the bodies to the next of kin.”
“International law requires that the authorities conduct prompt, effective and transparent investigations into all alleged cases of unlawful deaths,” the UNSMIL tweet read.
The Libyan conflict
The Libyan conflict began following the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since then, successive administrations have failed to control the country’s many militias.
Violence escalated in 2014 after disputed elections created discord between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the General Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA).
The conflict took a new turn in April last year when Haftar led a push to seize Tripoli, the nation’s capital.
On 5 June, the Government of National Accord (GNA) announced that it had gained control over Tarhuna, a city that was previously occupied by forces loyal to Haftar, who had consolidated control over most of the east of the country.
According to reports, the Libyan conflict has left several hundred dead and has forced over 200,000 people to flee their homes.