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More than 8,000 flee Libya fighting: UN

Aside from those who have fled, many remain stranded inside conflict-affected areas, with safety fears rising and supplies running short.

FILE: Military convoys heading towards western Libya and Tripoli in early April 2019. Picture: AFP

GENEVA - More than 8,000 people, half of whom have been displaced over the last two days, have fled fighting around Libya's capital, the United Nations said Friday.

"Displacements from areas affected by the clashes in an around Tripoli continue to surge," UN spokesperson Rheal Leblanc told reporters in Geneva.

Aside from those who have fled, Leblanc said that "many families remain stranded inside conflict-affected areas", with safety fears rising and supplies running short.

Military strongman Khalifa Haftar has launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), intensifying the crisis in the country riven by divisions since the Nato-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Dozens of people have been killed over the past week and more than 300 have been wounded, according to the World Health Organisation.

Speaking by phone from Tripoli, WHO's representative in Libya Jaffar Hussain Syed told reporters that the "fighting is closing (in) from the outskirts to inside of Tripoli".

"Our fear is that there will be more civilian casualties," he said.

Haftar's advance has triggered mounting global alarm, with the UN warning the situation could spiral out of control.