Months after NATO took over military operations in Libya, critics claim the U.N. is failing to take action on mounting civilian deaths at the hands of NATO forces.
Since March, NATO has launched air strikes against Gaddafi's forces on the basis of a Security Council resolution that authorized U.N. member states to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians short of occupying the country. However, officials in Tripoli and others claim that NATO operations have extended beyond their U.N. mandate and many worry that the U.N. hasn’t taken sufficient action to deal with the issue.
Just last week, Tripoli reported that 85 civilians were killed when missiles struck farm compounds in the village of Majar, about 90 miles east of the capital.
Speaking to Reuters at the site of the incident, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said, "This is a crime beyond imagination. Everything about this place is civilian."
In addition to civilian casualties, there are also reports that NATO is targeting other, non-combat related sites including state-owned media outlets, leaving questions about the motives behind the actions.
"I deplore the NATO strike on Al-Jamahiriya and its installations," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said. "Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions," she said. "U.N. Security Council Resolution 1738 (2006) condemns acts of violence against journalists and media personnel in conflict situations."
A coalition of several nations has also come forward to join Bokova in condemnation of the action and pressured NATO for an explanation for its actions. NATO claims the satellite transmission dishes were bombed to silence "terror broadcasts" on state television.
Amid the criticism, the U.N. itself has not remained completely silent but has refrained from taking a hardline stance against the reports.
"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports of the unacceptably large number of civilian casualties as a result of the conflict in Libya," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. "The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise extreme caution in their actions, in order to minimize any further loss of civilian life."
(Photo: Rebel fighters flash victory sign at the debris site of the communication center, allegedly bombed by NATO aviation when it was still under control of Moammar Gaddafi's forces; Brega, Libya, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011. Most of the town has been liberated from Moammar Gaddafi's forces, with fights going on only at the oil terminal, according the rebel military spokesman, Ahmed Bani) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)