Libyan truce would aid fight against coronavirus

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Western and Arab countries urged Libya’s warring factions to stop fighting to allow authorities to respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus.

Libya has yet to record a confirmed case, the World Health Organisation representative in Tripoli warned of the risks faced if the virus spreads in a country fragmented by conflict.

For the last year, the eastern-based Libyan National Army under Khalifa Haftar has waged a military campaign to capture Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord.

The LNA is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia while the GNA is supported by Turkey. In recent weeks numerous bombardments targeted GNA-held areas around Tripoli including around its last functioning airport.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tripoli and Benghazi administrations pledged funds to local health services and closed ports and airports.

A joint statement from Algeria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the US, the European Union, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates said a truce would help efforts to tackle the virus.

“We strongly support the efforts of Libyan health authorities across the country as they come together in a spirit of national cohesion and urge them to take all necessary measures to support the health and well-being of all Libyans,” the statement said.

“A truce would also enable combatants to return home to care for relatives who may be at higher risk,” it added.