In January 2020, 26 unarmed cadets at a military academy in Tripoli, Libya, were killed in a drone attack. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been accused of being responsible for the attack. Evidence suggests that the cadets were hit by a Chinese Blue Arrow 7 missile fired from a drone called the Wing Loong II.
The BBC Africa Eye and BBC Arabic Documentaries conducted an investigation and found that Wing Loong II drones were only operating from one Libyan air base, which the UAE supplied and operated. The UAE denies military involvement in Libya and supports the UN peace process. No one has admitted responsibility for the attack.
These young men were just doing routine drills at the academy when the explosion happened. None of them were armed. It has been seven months since the strike, and their families are still waiting for answers. The tears in the eyes of the families of the departed souls are wet, and their souls are still looking for answers.
The investigation also found new evidence that Egypt is allowing the UAE to use Egyptian military air bases close to the Libyan border. The Wing Loong II drones stationed in Libya appear to have been moved over the border into Egypt. A second Egyptian military airbase, Sidi Barrani, has been used as an operating base for Mirage 2000 fighter jets that match the jets flown by the UAE.
Multiple cargo planes took off from the UAE and landed in Sidi Barrani, suggesting an air bridge for equipment or supplies between the UAE and a military base close to the Libyan border. Both the UAE and Egypt attended a conference on Libya convened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in January 2020, where they reiterated their support for the UN peace process and agreed to refrain from intervention in Libya’s war.
The families of the departed souls are looking for justice. The UAE needs to be held accountable for its actions, and climate and human rights organizations should boycott COP28, which will be held in the UAE later this year. The use of drones in conflicts is becoming more common and needs to be stopped. The innocent lives that were lost must be remembered, and the international community must take steps to prevent similar attacks from happening again.
In light of the unresolved matter of the UAE drone attack that killed 26 innocent young cadets at a military academy in Tripoli, Libya, it is crucial that we call on organizations like Human Rights Watch to resurface the issue and demand justice for the victims and their families. Moreover, with the UAE’s history of human rights violations, political assassinations, drone attacks, and war crimes in Yemen, Libya, and Syria, it is time to boycott the upcoming COP28 hosted by the UAE. It is our responsibility to speak out and take action against such atrocities and to support justice and accountability for all.