Home Editorial 35% of air strike victims in Derna are children

35% of air strike victims in Derna are children



The city of Derna, located in the eastern region of Libya, has been the victim of violations and crimes against innocent civilians according to a report published by Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) on the 12th of this month. The report discussed the air strikes that Derna has suffered, and will probably suffer in the future if the country’s political situation remains divided.

The HRS described the report as preliminary, with the final report expected to be issued before the end of August. However, stating that a third of the victims are children will highlight the magnitude of the violations occurring in the city.

The report stated that 26 children were among the 71 civilian victims out of a total 74 wounded and dead air strike victims, which means that the children make up 35% of the victims.

The report was based on news reports covering the air strikes since June 20th, 2014, the day of the first air strike that resulted in the death of seven children in Ras Al-Helal area, up until the August 1st, 2016.

Nevertheless, the report estimated around 30 air strike victims fell this year, with 26 out of the 30 occurring on April 20th, after the withdrawal of the Islamic State (IS) forces from of Derna’s surrounding areas and the entire region.

The report added that 95% of the injured and dead were civilians, a very high percentage resulting from targeting residential areas, pointing out the negligence of whoever ordered the air strikes, and their lack of concern towards consequences.

The HRS’s report highlights the heinous crimes committed against the children and the people of Derna, especially after the defeat of the IS. More evidence regarding war crimes has emerged following air strikes targeting a hospital compound in Derna on the 7th of February 2016, resulting in the death of at least two civilians, one of whom is a child.

The Air Force Commander affiliated to General Khalifa Haftar, Saqr Al-Jroushi, stated in an interview at the time, that the raids were carried out by a “neighboring country,” without going into specifics.

Upon the anonymous air strikes, Human Rights Watch stressed the seriousness of these violations. And that if a criminal purpose is served, they are considered war crimes, affirming that whoever commits, orders or is responsible in any shape or form for these attacks, could be prosecuted by domestic or International Criminal Courts (ICC).

Human rights reports have been met with flimsy arguments from Haftar and Al-Jroushi all year long. Both insist their war’s main aim is to eliminate the IS in Derna and Benghazi. However even after the IS’s defeat, Derna still suffers from a blockade preventing food, medicine, and fuel from entering the city, and people from escaping the hell they’re living in.

The terrorist organization of the IS is currently being defeated in their biggest strongholds inside Libya, specifically in the city of Sirte by Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous under the command of the Government of National Accord (GNA). The IS were also defeated in Derna at the hands of its people and the Shura Council.

Through this act, Haftar is unknowingly, or maybe deliberately, supporting the IS and creating, through the pressure on Derna, a situation where bargaining with terrorist organizations for food, medicine, and fuel is deemed acceptable. Once again creating an IS “scarecrow” or a similar character to guarantee his presence as a political power.

Will the GNA’s Presidential Council (PC) turn towards Derna and Benghazi, after successfully supervising AL-Bunyan Al-Marsous’ operations Sirte?

A tough question for the PC, which faces significant challenges extending to the oil fields and ports, surrounded by military groups waging wars, complicating the situation even further.