Tripoli – 22 March 2020 – The timing could not be worse for the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic to loom over Libya as a protracted conflict has already inflicted so much damage including loss of life and injury, displacement and destruction of civilian facilities and infrastructure. We are therefore extremely encouraged by the positive responses from the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) to the calls for a humanitarian pause proposed by a number of member states and strongly supported by the United Nations. We hope that this will be translated into a complete cessation of hostilities to allow national health authorities and responders, supported by Libya’s international health and humanitarian partners, to strengthen preventive measures and put in place the requisite response systems.
We hasten to express appreciation to the Libyan authorities for allocating significant resources to support the needed urgent measures for enhanced prevention and response capabilities, and we encourage that these funds be made available swiftly to the competent Libyan authorities across the country that are working tirelessly to be as prepared as possible.
While focus should continue to be on preventive measures, we commend all the steps taken by the Libyan health authorities to identify and prepare facilities that can be used to isolate would-be suspected COVID-19 cases where proper care will be provided. Communities where these facilities may be located are encouraged to cooperate and facilitate these efforts recalling that this virus does not distinguish between people and that we are all in this together. The World Health Organization (WHO), other UN agencies and our humanitarian partners stand ready to provide the necessary support to the Libyan health counterparts so that these facilities serve their intended purposes to save the lives of those who may be infected while fully ensuring the safety of the communities in which the facilities are located.
This is a moment when we look to the competent authorities to expedite the clearance of medical supplies at Libyan ports, and to facilitate the free movement of medical and other humanitarian personnel in the country including through the smooth and predictable operation of United Nations and other humanitarian air flights.
In line with Libyan laws and humanitarian imperatives, we welcome any consideration by the Libyan authorities to decongest the state’s rehabilitation and correction centres and other facilities where migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are held. Those disembarked after rescue at the Mediterranean should also be saved the hardships of detention given these exceptional times of difficulty in Libya and in the world. There is no better environment for the virus to spread than in crowded settings.
Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.