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Fighting in Libya could trigger coronavirus outbreak - UN

24 marzo 2020 | 21.54
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Photo: AFP

The United Nations mission in Libya on Tuesday condemned the repeated shelling of targets in Tripoli's Ain Zara district including a jail, warning that the hostilities may cause an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic in the war-wracked country.

“The continuation of the fighting risks an undetected and out-of-control spread of Covid-19,” said Stephanie Williams, acting special envoy to Libya and head of the UN's mission to the country (UNSMIL).

“Despite the calls by many UN Member States, UNSMIL and the Secretary-General for an immediate cessation of hostilities to enable joint approaches to the Covid-19 pandemic, armed clashes, shelling, and mobilisation of forces in Libya continue, with unacceptable disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the civilian population,” she said.

UNSMIL had documented more than 13 violations of the humanitarian truce in the past two days, which resulted in the killing of at least three civilians and injuries to others,” Williams added.

Williams reiterated her call to the warring sides in the conflict in Libya to act in the national interest, respect international human rights and humanitarian law and honour their commitment to halting all military operations, according to a UNSMIL statement.

The statement deplored Tuesday's shelling of Ain Zara including the Al-Rwemi prison, allegedly by forces allied with the self-styled Libyan National Army of eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar.

"These attacks have resulted in a number of injuries, reportedly including among inmates, prisoners and judicial police officers," said the statement.

Williams urged an immediate halt to the shelling and the area of Al-Rwemi and the surrounding area "to avoid mass casualties among prisoners and prison guards".

Williams called on "authorities across Libya" to release all prisoners who are arbitrarily detained, and consider releasing pre-trial prisoners, especially women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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