Monday, April 15, 2019

Millions of textbooks destroyed during fighting in the Libyan capital

By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - More than 3 million books were completely damaged when missiles hit the Education Ministry buildings during fighting between rival government forces to control the Libyan capital Tripoli, officials and the United Nations said on Monday.

About two weeks ago, the forces of eastern Libya (the Libyan National Army) allied with a parallel government began making progress towards Tripoli, which is controlled by the internationally recognized government, deepening the chaos in Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The fighting front has seen little change for days as armed groups supporting the UN-backed government in the western Libyan capital have repelled the attack.

But air strikes and bombardments hit civilian infrastructure and homes, especially in the south of the capital, where eastern Liba forces are trying to penetrate government defenses.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that the targeting of civilian facilities was a violation of international humanitarian law.

"The bombing of schools, hospitals, ambulances and civilian areas is strictly prohibited," the UN mission warned in Libya, adding that it was documenting such cases for submission to the UN Security Council.

Officials in Tripoli said a school was hit on Sunday by an air strike blamed on eastern Libya.

A Tripoli government official told Reuters two missiles also hit the Ministry of Education's warehouses late on Sunday, destroying 3.1 million textbooks.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a press release that the destruction had resulted in five million books and the results of examinations.

In another incident, Reuters reporters on Monday filmed a residential building in southern Tripoli that was hit by at least one missile. Some families were at home during the strike but survived unharmed with the exception of minor wounds.

Baby shoes, bread and rocket residues were on the floor of the destroyed house. There was no damage to one of the children's rooms.

The two sides share responsibility for bombing residential areas.

The UN refugee agency said the fighting had displaced more than 18,000 people, including 2,500 in the past 24 hours.

Nearly 150 people, most of them fighters, died and more than 600 people were wounded, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The surprise attack by the eastern forces of Libya led by Khalifa Hafer led to the postponement of a national conference that the United Nations had prepared for him long before the forces of eastern Libya. The conference was due to bring together the two rival sides to agree on a plan for elections and end the unrest.

No new date has been set, with no sign of ending the fighting.

He has always said that his mission is to restore order to the country.
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