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Libya key source for illicit arms, fueling conflicts: UN envoy

Source: Reuters - Mon, 10 Mar 2014 21:17 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 (Reuters) - U.N. experts say Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles, which have been trafficked to at least 14 countries and are fueling conflicts on several continents, Rwanda's U.N. envoy said on Monday.

Rwandan Ambassador Eugene Gasana, chair of the U.N. Security Council's Libya sanctions committee, briefed the 15-member council on the final report of the independent panel of experts who monitor violations of the world body's sanctions regime.

A U.N. arms embargo was imposed on Libya at the start of an uprising in 2011 that ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi. The fragile government is struggling to rein in dozens of militias that helped oust Gaddafi and now defy state authority.

"The panel noted that the control of non-state armed actors over the majority of stockpiles in Libya as well as ineffective border control systems remained primary obstacles to countering proliferation and that Libya had become a primary source of illicit weapons, including MANPADs," Gasana told the council.

MANPADs are man-portable air defense systems.

"The panel furthermore noted that investigations relating to transfers to 14 countries reflected a highly diversified range of trafficking dynamics; and that trafficking from Libya was fueling conflict and insecurity - including terrorism - on several continents," he said.

Libya has been trying to rebuild its army since Gaddafi's overthrow, but analysts say it is not yet a match for battle-hardened militias that fought in the eight-month uprising that toppled him.

The rebels have seized three ports and partly control a fourth in the OPEC member country. Officials said on Monday that Libya's parliament has ordered a special force to be sent within one week to "liberate" all rebel-held ports.

TRAVEL VIOLATIONS

A year ago the U.N. Security Council made it easier for Libya to obtain non-lethal equipment such as bulletproof vests and armored cars but expressed concern at the spread of weapons from the country to nearby states.

It urged the Libyan government then to improve its monitoring of arms and related materiel that is supplied, sold or transferred to the government - with the approval of the U.N. sanctions committee that oversees the arms embargo.

The U.N. experts expressed concern in their report about violations of the arms embargo by "non-notified" deliveries of arms to government forces and transfers of weapons to the private market, Gasana said.

Libya's U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the Security Council that "any request for approval for exporting weapons to Libya that is not done via the Libyan mission at the U.N. or with the knowledge of this mission would be considered a request from a party that does not belong to the Libyan government."

"The exporting party shall bear the responsibility for that before the Security Council," he said.

Gasana said the panel of U.N. experts also found that many countries lacked the legislative capacity to implement asset freezes on individuals and entities blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council.

"One instance resulted in the dissipation of almost $2 million in funds that should have been frozen," Gasana said.

The panel reported that Gaddafi's daughter Aisha and son Mohammed had violated a U.N. travel ban by traveling from Algeria to Oman a year ago. Oman said it had granted asylum to them and several other family members. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Perry)

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