World

a year of fratricidal war and the worst is to be feared with the coronavirus

Fighting intensified south of Tripoli and east of Misrata, ignoring the threat of the coronavirus.

Deadly fighting, displaced by tens of thousands and oil production at a standstill: Libya has suffered a war of attrition between its rival powers at the gates of the capital Tripoli for a year, and the worst is to be feared with the pandemic of the new coronavirus.

We are just witnessing the decimation of a nationJalel Harchaoui, analyst at the Clingendael Instituteto AFP

On April 4, 2019, Marshal Khalifa Haftar, installed in the east of the country and who derives his legitimacy from the Parliament elected in 2014, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, where a rival authority recognized by the UN is based, the government of national unity (GNA).

But far from the flash offensive promised by Khalifa Haftar in the wake of territorial conquests in southern Libya, the fighting got bogged down in the sands of Tripolitania, at the gates of an agglomeration of two million inhabitants.

Over the months, foreign armed interference has even exacerbated this conflict, with the United Arab Emirates and Russia supporting Marshal Haftar on one side and Turkey supporting the GNA on the other. In turn, the experienced UN envoy Ghassan Salamé finally threw in the towel in early March, after the failure of his attempts to pacify this oil country plunged in chaos and delivered to the militias since the fall of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

At the end of January in Berlin, the countries concerned undertook to respect an arms embargo and to support a cease-fire. Yet another broken promise on the part of an international community which, in general opinion, bears a heavy responsibility in the situation: very quickly, the United Nations denounced a continuous influx of weapons and mercenaries.

The GNA is still receiving human reinforcements and weapons from Turkey. Pro-Haftar receive military aid, including drones, and especially financial aid from the Emirates, which has become a key player in the conflict.

In recent days, the GNA has announced a counter-offensive “Storm of Peace “, and fighting intensified south of Tripoli and east of Misrata, ignoring the threat of the coronavirus and yet another truce endorsed by both sides.

According to analyst Jalel Harchaoui, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has even “exacerbated this escalation”, by diverting the attention of the international community from Libya. On this health front, the GNA has so far announced 10 cases of contamination.

And the situation becomes “insupportable” for over 150 000 displaced by the fighting, particularly destitute in the event of the spread of the new coronavirus.

I have a lot of trouble with the common toilets where, very often, there is no water or soap. My family and I live in dire conditionsFatma Kairi, 50, diabeticto AFP

According to the UN, “the fighting, but also the containment measures due to Covid-19, hamper humanitarian access and the free movement of medical and humanitarian personnel” in Libya.

Tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa also suffer, like Benjamin Koffee, who has been living in Libya since 2013.

Already, with the war, our life was not easy in Tripoli, and with the coronavirus, I can not even work anymore to have money and buy foodBenjamin Koffee, Ghanaian plumber to AFP

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