A No Fly Zone has been put in place, thousands of lives have been saved, sanctions have been introduced and an arms embargo is being enforced. The Qadhafi regime has been dealt a serious blow.
At the start of this year, Libyans began peaceful protests calling for a more open and democratic country. Qadhafi and his forces responded with widespread violence against the people of Libya, committing serious human rights violations.
In February the United Nations condemned the brutality, with the threat of further action. Wide ranging sanctions were introduced. There was unprecedented criticism of Libya at the Arab League and African Union and crimes in Libya were referred to the International Criminal Court.
Libya became the first country to be suspended from the Human Rights Council. But Qadhafi ignored all of this. As the situation deteriorated, the United Nations ruled on 17 March in favour of “all necessary measures to protect civilians.” That ruling is known as the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
The resolution does the following:
The resolution explicitly rules out any foreign occupation force being sent in to Libya.
The decision on British military involvement in Libya was not taken lightly. It was taken because it was necessary to protect the Libyan people. The entire Cabinet and the vast majority of MPs agreed that it was the right thing to do. Importantly, our action has the clear legal backing of the United Nations, as well as support from the Arab League.The UN enforcement action we are taking is necessary, legal and right. Necessary, because Qadhafi continues to brutalise his own people in flagrant breach of a UN Resolution 1973. Legal, because we have a clear UN Resolution, which authorises “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. And right; we have a moral duty to intervene.
Our objective in Libya is to stop the massacre of innocent civilians by Qadhafi and his troops. Avoiding civilian casualties is paramount in this aim. Qadhafi should end the violence and go so that Libyans can decide their own future.
RAF pilots flew to Gioia del Colle in southern Italy on Sunday 20 March and began working with France and America to enforce the No Fly Zone in Libya. The Navy are also providing key support in this action. Our Armed Forces have once again shown their courage and skill and we are immensely proud of them.
NATO assumed full operating capability over all military operations in Libya on 31 March and there are now 34 nations providing a range of assistance.
Since then more than 9300 sorties and 3521 strike sorties have been conducted. This action has seriously degraded Qadhafi’s military assets and prevented widespread massacres planned by Qadhafi’s forces: they remain unable to enter Benghazi and it is highly likely that without these efforts Misrata would have fallen, with terrible consequences for the city’s inhabitants.
On Tuesday 26 April, Foreign Secretary William Hague gave a full update to Parliament on the developments in Libya. The 90 day extension of NATO's mission in Libya has been welcomed by the Foreign Secretary.
Full details of the NATO intervention in Libya including a timeline of events can be found on the NATO website.
The UK is one of over thirty nations contributing to the humanitarian effort in Libya. Food distribution is taking place at six locations in opposition held areas in the east of the country. Many civilians in Misrata lack access to basic necessities, including food, water and electricity and there is a shortage of some crucial medical supplies.
The UK has so far given over £13 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs, providing funding for medical and food supplies, emergency shelter, and assistance for evacuating poor and vulnerable migrants. In Misrata alone, British support has given 10,000 people food, 2000 families water and hygiene kits and provided essential medical staff. We call on the Libyan regime to guarantee unfettered humanitarian access, not just broken promises which then put the lives of aid workers and volunteers at risk.
On 18 April, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced that the UK will help 5,000 people escape the besieged city of Misurata and provide vital medical assistance to those who remain in towns across western Libya. Since then the UK has helped fly 12,500 migrant workers trapped at the Libyan borders back to their home countries.
More on the UK aid mission in Libya can be found on the Department for International Development's website.
A British diplomatic mission has been established in Benghazi, which is currently led by our new Permanent Head of Office, John Jenkins. The UK is not engaged in arming the opposition forces. We are, however, prepared to supply non-lethal equipment which will help with the protection of civilian lives and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Given the urgent need of the National Transitional Council (NTC) for telecommunications equipment, the UK National Security Council decided on 4 April to supply them with such equipment.
On 19 April, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that a military liaison advisory team will join the mission, drawn from experienced British military officers. These additional personnel are enabling the UK to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the NTC on how to better protect civilians. In particular they are advising the NTC on how to improve their military organisational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance. In doing so, the UK is coordinating closely with other international partners also assisting the NTC.On 13 May following a visit to the UK from Chairman of the NTC Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the Foreign Secretary informed Parliament that the NTC has been invited to establish an office in the UK in line with the government's assessment of the NTC as the legitimate interlocutor in Libya, representing the aspirations of the Libyan people. The Foreign Secretary said:
The Libyan regime is under pressure. What is required from them is clear: a genuine ceasefire, an end to all attacks against civilians, the withdrawal of armed forces from contested cities and full access for humanitarian assistance. It is when these requirements of the UN are fulfilled that air strikes to protect civilians can stop. The world is united in believing that the Qadhafi regime has lost all legitimacy and that he must go, allowing the Libyan people to determine their own future.
The UK hosted the London Conference on Libya on Tuesday 29 March, where it was agreed that the first meeting on the Libya Contact Group would take place in Doha on Wednesday 13 April.
The London Conference on Libya took place on Tuesday 29 March 2011 and was chaired by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
The human rights situation in Libya was discussed in a Wilton Park meeting at the Foreign Office on 11 April, which involved UK officials and a wide range of international partners.
Alistair Burt, FCO Minister for Middle East and North Africa hosted a small meeting for people who have experienced first-hand the situation in Tripoli.
Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt heard firsthand accounts of the situation in Misrata during a private meeting with eyewitnesses from the besieged city.
Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said he "firmly believes that the Libyan people will achieve their vision for a free, prosperous and democratic Libya".