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Black Libyan minority caught in crossfire between Arab neighbours fighting for dominance

April 09, 2019 at 04:00 pm | News

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Head of Content

April 09, 2019 at 04:00 pm | News

The Toubou tribe of Libya resides in the deep south of Libya. They are a nomadic dark skinned tribe that has resided in Libya for thousands of years. - Photo: Wikipedia

For over a century, southern Libya has been dominated by Black Libyans of the Tubu tribe who have suffered years of marginalization compared to the Arab population under the over 40-year regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Endowed with a vast stretch of land in the south rich in water and petrol reserves, the Tubu have taken their fate in their own hands by controlling their lands after the revolution which attracted armed resistance by the majority Arab Libyans.

The tribal chiefs recently called on the United Nations Security Council and the international community to intervene and protect civilians as they are being attacked and killed by their Arab neighbours without the interim government’s intervention.

The eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, took the oil-rich south of Libya earlier this year before advancing through largely unpopulated desert regions toward Tripoli.

The Tubu blamed the government in Tripoli for the killings in their communities and in the city of Murzuk where mass graves were allegedly found with bodies of their slain tribespeople.

“The crimes perpetrated in Murzuk include the killing of unarmed civilians, besides hundreds who were wounded, not to mention the mass graves found in several parts of the city containing bodies with their hands bound,” said the statement cited by African Globe.

“The government holds the national, moral, and social responsibility for not taking any action and failing to fulfil their duties” the statement added.

They claim the attacks on them by the Arab Libyans is due to their identity and they continue to suffer from attacks since the revolution that ousted Gaddafi.

“There were other violations, including the kidnapping of dozens of young people on identity, as well as looting of property, where more than 300 cars have been reported stolen from the citizens, in addition to the burning of more than 94 houses,” the statement added.

The Tubu called on international organizations such as the Red Crescent and Red Cross to help in the search of the missing, and the recovery of bodies from the mass graves found in the outskirts of Murzuk. They also demanded an independent investigation by an international commission in the city of Murzuk.

The Tubu black minority were not represented in the Libyan army before the revolution and after the ousting of Gaddafi, they formed their own militia to protect their communities.

Arab communities including Tripoli and Benghazi are the main focus of the international community while the black Libyans in the south have been left to protect themselves from Arab neighbours who infiltrate their areas.

The jihadist Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for attacking the town of Fuqaha in the south, where residents said three people were killed and another kidnapped. The attack indicated IS may be looking to exploit gaps left by movements of Haftar’s troops, reports Reuters.

Despite international appeals, Libyan eastern forces have attacked parts of the capital Tripoli as part of heightened tensions between the rival parallel administrations in the country.

The government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj is seeking to block the LNA with the help of allied armed groups who have rushed to Tripoli from Misrata in pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, reports Reuters.

Serraj has run Tripoli since 2016 as part of a U.N.-brokered deal boycotted by Haftar who is a former general in Muammar Gaddafi’s army.

Here’s a report highlighting the plight of the black Libyan minority.

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