PATROL: Military vehicles of a joint security force in charge of clearing Tripoli, the Libyan capital, of armed militias are seen this week. The force is part of a campaign launched by the government to flush out armed militias and impose security and stability in the city. Picture: REUTERS
PATROL: Military vehicles of a joint security force in charge of clearing Tripoli, the Libyan capital, of armed militias are seen this week. The force is part of a campaign launched by the government to flush out armed militias and impose security and stability in the city. Picture: REUTERS

NEW YORK — Weapons are spreading from Libya and fuelling conflicts in Mali, Syria and elsewhere and boosting the arsenals of extremists and criminals in the region, a United Nations (UN) report published on Tuesday shows.

The report by the UN Security Council’s Group of Experts — who monitor an arms embargo imposed on Libya at the start of an uprising in 2011 that ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi — said the North African state had become a key source of weapons as its nascent government struggles to exert authority.

"Cases, both proven and under investigation, of illicit transfers from Libya in violation of the embargo cover more than 12 countries and include heavy and light weapons, including man-portable air defence systems, small arms and related ammunition and explosives and mines," the experts wrote.

"Illicit flows from the country are fuelling existing conflicts in Africa and the Levant and enriching the arsenals of a range of nonstate actors, including terrorist groups," according to the 94-page report.

Weapons from Libya were also being transported through southern Tunisia, southern Algeria and northern Niger to destinations such as Mali, but some were remaining in those corridor countries for use by local groups.

The experts said they had found that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had breached the arms embargo on Libya during the 2011 uprising by providing weapons and ammunition to rebels fighting the forces of Gaddafi. The experts said Qatar had denied the accusation, while the UAE had not responded.

Reuters