UNITED NATIONS, March 31 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia continues to ‘closely address’ the issue of civilian casualties in Libya as a result of NATO bombardments, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin confirmed on Friday.
“Regrettably, our Western partners in the UN Security Council have been trying to play down and hush up the affair in every way they can,” Churkin told Itar-Tass. “Last time the issue was brought up in the UN Security Council they put forward an amazing excuse to the effect it would be far better to look into the future.” The Russian diplomat said this attitude “does not hold water.” He pointed out that for the Security Council the question of civilian victims of NATO’s bombardments in Libya “is important, because the death of civilian population was a result of operations approved in this building, and the whole operation was conceived as a means to protect civilians.”
Churkin recalled that as he addressed the UN Security Council on March 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded investigation into reports of civilian victims of bombardments in Libya and urged the UN Secretary-General to shed light on that issue, using the Declaration on UN/NATO Secretriat Cooperation, signed in 2008.
In the meantime, as UN officials have said, the UN Secretary-General has no plans for taking any steps along these lines. On Friday journalists asked the UN Secretary General’s deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey about Ban Ki-moon’s response to the North Atlantic Alliance’s refusal to cooperate with the international commission for the investigation of human rights abuse in Libya the UN Human Rights Council had created. The deputy spokesman looked confused and then said that it depended entirely on the Human Rights Council how to achieve cooperation with NATO.
NATO’s massive air campaign, launched in March 2011 against the Muamar Gaddafi regime, saw 26,000 sorties, including 10,000 attack sorties. According to official reports, the alliance’s planes destroyed 5,900 military targets. The operation ended only after Gaddafi’s physical elimination by Libyan rebels last October.
In its report published on March 2 the UN Human Rights Commission presented evidence of the death of at least 50 civilians as a result of NATO’s air raids. The international human rights organization Amnesty International gathered documentary evidence of the death of at least 55 civilians, including 16 women and 14 children, that NATO’s air strikes had led to. Such cases occurred after air raids on Tripoli, Sirt, Marsa-el Brega, Zliten and Majer.
“Implausibly, NATO insists it knows of no “confirmed” civilian casualties during its entire seven-month Libya bombing campaign,” says an editorial in Friday’s New York Times. “Confirmed” means confirmed by NATO, which has shown little interest in investigating credible independent claims of civilian fatalities, including a 27-page memo submitted by The Times last year documenting nine separate attacks where the evidence pointed to unintended victims.”
The newspaper describes as impermissible NATO’s refusal to cooperate with the UN commission.
“If NATO’s military leaders continue to resist a public inquiry, in concert with the U.N. or by NATO itself, President Obama and other political leaders of the alliance should press them to change their minds,” says the New York Times.