NEW YORK, JULY 31 – Set to arrive in Libya this week, the new United Nations Special Representative said that he was coming to Tripoli to work with the Libyans, in an attempt to help find a solution out of the political crisis that led to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and pushed the country into a crisis that sees thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe and other countries in Africa.
“I am coming to work with them and for them,” Ghassan Salamé told “UN News” about his message to the people of Libya. “I am not going to work in their place because there are things that they need to decide. [If] they’re happy to remain in that political vicious circle, I can do nothing for them. But if their decision is to get out of it, they will find in me an energetic and creative mind at their service.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres in June appointed Mr. Salamé as his Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). During their first official meeting last week, described as “long” and “fruitful” by Mr. Salamé, the Secretary-General gave his new envoy two key cards to use in Libya. “The Secretary-General had the opportunity to express the great attention he is devoting to Libya as a high level issue,” Mr. Salamé said, and “his confidence in the leadership [that] I will need to demonstrate with dealing with this sensitive issue.”
In the month since being appointed, Mr. Salamé said he received hundreds of emails and tens of thousands of tweets offering advice on how to assist Libya – sometimes contradictory. “Some people wanted me to be extremely interventionist in their own affairs, some people wanted me to be very, very prudent in their own affairs,” he said. “Some people wanted me to deal; some people wanted me to never talk to other people.”
“I learned a lot from all this,” Mr. Salamé said, adding that he was particularly moved by the “incredible warmth” the Libyans have shown him so far.
During the next few days, the new UN envoy plans to meet with permanent representatives to the UN of various stakeholders to refine his own view of how Libya is seen. These will include meetings with the so-called ‘P 5,’ or five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – as well as countries with a direct interest in the evolution of Libyan affairs, such as Algeria, Egypt, Italy and Tunisia, as well as the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU). Salame’ met today with Nikki Haley, the US Permanent Representative. Ambassador Haley and the Special Representative “recognized the importance of getting UNSMIL back into Tripoli, and Ambassador Haley appreciated the UN’s interest in expanding to other parts of the country”, a note from the US Mission said.
Mr. Salamé is due to arrive in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, by Wednesday. (@OnuItalia)
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