The UN has called on a halt to military escalation in Libya in order to prioritise the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus.
Years of military conflict and political negotiations in Libya and in the international arena have failed to bring about a compromise and an end to hostilities in the Libyan civil conflict. However, with the global spread of the Coronavirus, there is a chance that this health crisis will bring the warring sides together in order to confront this crisis.
The UN has called for exactly this – an end to the military escalation that has gone through leaps and bounds, especially over the past year, since the launch of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) offensive on the capital Tripoli back in April 2019. The UN call for a cessation to hostilities for humanitarian purposes comes at a time when Libya is unprepared for a pandemic, and so the country will need to funnel the bulk of its resources to its public health services, rather than to its military budgets.
The political authorities of both sides, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the House of Representative (HoR), have already pledged to to allocate more money to the beleaguered health services. Sea ports, airports and land borders have been closed, while certain public spaces, including mosques, have been closed.
Thus far, Libya has not officially declared any cases of the Coronavirus in the country. The situation is similar in another country experiencing civil conflict – Syria. There are suspicions that due to the war-time circumstances, cases of the virus are going undetected.
Despite the supposed absence of cases, the authorities have begun to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus to and inside the country, as neighbouring and regional countries have recorded several cases: 24 in Tunisia, 60 in Algeria and 166 in Egypt.
The fight against Coronavirus will be a test for national unity in Libya and a time for political differences to be set aside in order to combat a common enemy.