UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libyan National Army (LNA) for pausing fighting to deal with the public health crisis presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the worn-torn North African country.
“Given the already dire humanitarian situation in Libya and the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary-General calls on the parties to join forces to address the threat and to ensure unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout the country,” Guterres said in a statement.
UNSMIL welcomes the positive responses by GNA & LNA to the calls for of a humanitarian pause, & hopes that they stop the fighting immediately to allow national health authorities and other health partners to respond to the potential threat of COVID-19 https://t.co/k4PKANlTva
— UNSMIL (@UNSMILibya) March 21, 2020
Over the last week, the UN and the international community have appealed to both sides of the conflict to work together to address the threat of coronavirus in Libya.
The international tally of coronavirus cases reached 307,297 and deaths hit 13,049 on Sunday, March 22.
Libya is yet to report any cases of the virus, but its suspected the absence of cases is due to a lack of testing rather than a lack of an outbreak. There are grave concerns the pandemic will have a disastrous effect in conflict zones like Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
Amid the deepening global COVID19 pandemic, the news of a pause in fighting in Libya is a timely, positive development both for the conflict and the global fight against the virus.
Guterres also expressed hopes that the current pause in fighting might translate into a solid ceasefire.
“[The Secretary-General] therefore calls on the parties to accept the draft ceasefire agreement emanating from the 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva last month,” the UN statement concluded.