The UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Libya condemned cutting off water supply to the capital Tripoli as “particularly reprehensible” and said it must stop immediately.
An armed group stormed a control station at Shwerif, stopping water from being pumped and threatening workers, the Great Man Made River Project, which supplies water to most of Libya, said in a statement.
The armed group plans use the water cut as pressure to force the release of detained family members, UN humanitarian co-ordinator Yacoub El Hillo said in a statement.
The supply was cut to over two million people in Tripoli and nearby towns and cities.
Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), has been under assault for a year by the eastern-based Libyan National Army of Khalifa Haftar.
An escalation in fighting with heavy bombardment, particularly in the south near the front lines, saw projectiles hitting a hospital.
Fighting hindered efforts to prepare Libya’s tattered health system for an outbreak of the coronavirus with 24 cases confirmed. State efforts to slow the spread of the disease include a curfew.
Electricity supply was repeatedly cut in Tripoli and other areas the past week.
“When Libya is fighting the threat of COVID-19, access to water and electricity is more than ever lifesaving and individual acts to collectively punish millions of innocent people are abhorrent and must stop immediately,” Hillo said.