Libya: Human Rights Report on Civilian Casualties – March 2018

From 1 March to 31 March 2018, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)

documented 16 civilian casualties � five deaths and 11 injuries � during the conduct

of hostilities across Libya, a significant drop from the two previous months.

Victims included three men, one woman and one girl killed and three men, one woman,

four boys and three girls injured.

The majority of civilian casualties were caused by shelling (two deaths and

seven injuries), followed by gunfire (two deaths), explosive remnants of war (ERW,

one death), and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED, one injury). The

exact causes of one death and three injuries was unknown

UNSMIL documented civilian casualties in Sabha (four killed and eight

injured), Derna (two injured), Benghazi (one killed) and Ajdabiya (one injured).

UNSMIL documented four additional casualties from other possible violations

of international humanitarian law and violations or abuses of international human

rights law in al-Zawiya, Benghazi and Sabha.

Civilian Casualty Incidents

Between 6 and 24 March, intermittent clashes in Sabha between Awlad Suleiman

and Tebu tribal armed groups and their allies claimed at least four civilian lives

and eight civilian injuries. Casualties occurred as a result of the use of

indiscriminate fire in densely populated areas, as well as reports of sniper

shootings at civilians or civilian vehicles. Civilian casualties in Sabha included a

6 year-old-girl killed and three other children injured on 6 March in the Hajara

neigbourhood when a shell hit their temporary refuge. They had earlier fled their

homes in the area of Tayouri due to clashes. On 7 March, a Tebu man was killed by

multiple gunshots in southern Sabha. On 10 March, an 11-year-old girl sustained

shrapnel injuries in the shelling of her home. On 11 March, a woman was killed while

her husband, a doctor from Gatroun, and their two children were injured when their

moving vehicle came under fire in south-eastern Sabha. On 18 March, a 46-year-old

man of Arab origin sustained minor injuries when a shell, hit his residence. On 24

March, an unidentified man, likely to have been a Sub-Saharan African migrant

worker, was killed in the shelling of the Hajara neighbourhood.

On 4 March, a woman and her daughter sustained minor shrapnel injuries when

their home in western Derna was hit by an unknown projectile. The outskirts of Derna

have witnessed sporadic fighting between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the

Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council.

On 20 March, a Palestinian man and long-term resident of Benghazi, was

killed when an unknown explosive detonated in his home in the area of Sabry, site of

protracted fighting between the LNA and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council

(BRSC) and their allies.

On 29 March, a civilian sustained a minor injury when a VBIED detonated at a

checkpoint east of Ajdabiya. The attack also left six LNA affiliated military

personnel dead and another nine injured.


The BRSC and allies are believed to have been responsible for leaving mines

and ERWs in areas of Benghazi they controlled prior to their retreat.

The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the VBIED attack on

the checkpoint east of Ajdabiya through the Amaq News Agencyrdquo;.

UNSMIL was unable to determine with certainty which parties to the conflict

had caused the other civilian casualties in March.

Casualties from other violations of international humanitarian law and

violations or abuses of human rights

On 4 March, a man was shot dead by unidentified gunmen inside his Sabha

shop. On 23 March, a 52-year-old man was shot in the neighbourhood of Manshia in

Sabha. During both incidents, there were no armed clashes in the vicinity. The two

killings are not believed to have been linked to the ongoing armed conflict in


On 18 March, a university student from al-Zawiya was gunned down on the

street by a member of an armed group. The motive of the killing remains unclear.

On 25 March, the body of a member of the Special Forces, believed to have

been a medical professional, was uncovered in al-Kuweifiya inside his vehicle. He

suffered from multiple gunshot wounds. A number of suspects have been arrested in

Benghazi in relation to the incident.


The figures for civilian casualties set out above only include persons

killed or injured in the course of hostilities and who were not directly

participating in the hostilities. The figures do not include those casualties that

are not a direct result of hostilities, for example executions after capture,

torture or abductions, or casualties caused as an indirect consequence of

hostilities. The figures are based on information UNSMIL has gathered and cross-

checked from a broad range of sources in Libya, including human rights defenders,

civil society, current and former officials, employees of local governments,

community leaders and members, witnesses, others directly affected and media

reports. In order to assess the credibility of information obtained, where possible,

UNSMIL reviewed documentary information, including medical records, forensic reports

and photographic evidence.

The figures are only those that UNSMIL was able to document in the reporting

period. They are not likely to be complete and may change as new information emerges

about incidents involving civilian casualties that took place during this period.

Similarly, while UNSMIL has systematically tried to ensure that the cases it

documented are based on credible information, further verification would be required

to attain a higher standard of proof. Due to the security situation, UNSMIL has not

been able to carry out direct site visits to all relevant locations in Libya to

obtain information. Fear of reprisals against sources further hamper information


While not all actions leading to civilian casualties breach international

humanitarian law, UNSMIL reminds all parties to the conflict that they are under an

obligation to target only military objectives. Direct attacks on civilians as well

as indiscriminate attacks � which do not distinguish between civilians and fighters

� are prohibited. Attacks that are expected to cause incidental loss of civilian

life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects excessive to the

anticipated concrete and direct military advantage are also prohibited. Such attacks

amount to war crimes that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

In order to ensure greater protection of the civilian population and

essential infrastructure, all parties engaged in fighting in Libya must cease the

use of mortars and other indirect weapons and imprecise aerial bombardments in

civilian-populated areas, and not place fighters or other military objectives in

populated areas. All executions of captives must cease and all those captured

including fighters must be treated humanely in all circumstances. Murdering or

torturing captives is also a war crime, regardless of what the captive may be

accused of.

Cases highlighted in the Casualties from other violations of international

humanitarian law and violations or abuses of human rightsrdquo; section include

casualties caused during incidents that would constitute a violation of

international humanitarian or human rights law, but are not a direct result of

hostilities, for examples executions upon capture of civilians and others hors de

combat (such as captured fighters) and torture causing death. The section also

includes casualties caused by the proliferation of weapons and impunity enjoyed by

armed groups and criminal networks � considered as indirect consequences of

hostilities. Cases highlighted in the other casualtiesrdquo; section are not

included in the figures for civilian casualties and include only those that UNSMIL

documented during the month.

Source: United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)