TRIPOLI, Libya: The United Nations has evacuated dozens of foreign staff from its mission in Libya due to a deteriorating security situation in the North African country, a U.N. spokesman said Thursday.
“They will return if the security situation improves,” said Samir Ghattas, spokesman for the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, without saying how many had left the country.
Ghattas gave no specific security reason for the evacuation.
Libya has been in near constant turmoil for three years, with successive governments struggling for legitimacy and unable to tame various armed groups that helped overthrow veteran ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 but are now defying state authority.
Last month the U.N. mission, tasked with helping Libya make the transition to democracy, drew sharp criticism over an initiative to bring together Libya’s political factions.
The government complained the U.N. had failed to consult with Libyan partners before announcing it. The initiative even drew threats on social media, prompting Tripoli to urge citizens not to resort to violence against UNSMIL or the U.N. special envoy to Libya, Tarek Mitri.
In 2012, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt against the then-U.N. Special Envoy, Ian Martin.