The self-proclaimed eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) on Saturday followed the Tripoli-based government of National Accord (GNA) in responding positively to a call for a truce to allow the country to focus on the danger from the coronavirus.
“The General Command is committed to stopping fighting so long as the other parties abide by it,” LNA said in a statement.
the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and international partners have called earlier this week on all parties to the Libyan conflict to declare an immediate humanitarian cessation of hostilities as well as a halt to the continuing transfer of all military equipment and personnel into Libya, in order to allow local authorities to rapidly respond to the unprecedented public health challenge posed by COVID-19.
However, the LNA, which has launched in April last year an offensive to capture the capital Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognized GNA, continued shelling of the area around Tripoli, including an attack that killed five persons, four girls and young women, on Thursday.
The United Nations on Saturday welcomed the “positive responses” of the GNA and LNA to calls for a pause to stop the fighting, in the hopes that this would allow humanitarian access throughout the crisis-torn country and head off the potential threat of COVID-19.
“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,” a statement issued by a UN spokesperson said.
According to media sources, Libya has not reported any cases of the coronavirus that has infected 306,892 persons and killed more than 13,000 worldwide since last December. A truce between the warring sides may make it easier for humanitarian workers to help avert a possible outbreak in the North African nation.
Mr. Guterres also hoped the humanitarian pause will be translated into a lasting ceasefire.
“He 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 statement concluded.
In a separate statement, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), also welcomed the developments and expressed the hope that that the parties “stop the fighting immediately on all fronts to allow national health authorities and health partners to respond to the potential threat of COVID-19 in the country.”
The UN mission called on all parties to join forces, work together and direct their powers and resources to support Libyans and local authorities to improve their preparedness to battle this pandemic and prevent catastrophic consequences.
“This includes allowing unhindered access to the provisions of humanitarian assistance, goods and food items, and to allow WHO and health sector partners to work unimpeded in all parts of the country,” according to the mission.