Libya: UN reports dramatic increase in violence worsens humanitarian crisis

Waving flag of the United Nations

On Monday, United Nations raised concern over worsening of crisis in Libya. The organisation reported ‘dramatic increase’ in killing of civilians. The war-torn nation recently witnessed indiscriminate shelling on densely populated civilian areas in Libyan capital, Tripoli. The attack led to the killing of five civilians and wounded 28 over the past few days. Though the perpetrator has not been identified, UN strongly condemned the incident, and said that the escalating violence would amount to war crimes. It is the worst the nation could endure, especially when its already facing a major health crisis – covid-19.

Libya has been struggling to achieve political stability since 2011 revolution, organised to dethrone its autocratic ruler Moammar Gaddafi. Unfortunately Gaddafi’s exit led to creation of more than a thousand militia groups in the North African state, which has the largest oil reserves in Africa. Currently the two major factions that are battling to win control over the country are – UN-backed Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army based in Tobruk.Haftar returned to Libya in 2011, during the revolt against Gaddafi, but failed to find a role at first. His rise on the national scene came in 2014, after he formed his LNA and launched Operation Dignity against militias in Tripoli.

Rival forces are battling to take over each other’s forces and establish their control over the nation.The two did reached truce (though a fragile one) considering the need for peace to combat pandemic outbreak of coronavirus. But probably in a nation where dozens die in a day, the fear of deadly contagion is not strong enough to establish peace. As per the recent reports, GNA forces attacked Tarhuna, over the weekend to destroy the  main supply line of Haftar’s forces 45 miles southeast of Tripoli. In a counter strike, LNA forces fired rockets, which hit civilian areas destroying numerous buildings including hospitals.

The airstrike in Tripoli sent people in a frenzy as thousands ran out of their homes despite the nation-wide lockdown. In its renewed plea, UN urged both the sides to put a halt on the rising “indiscriminate” and “flagrant” attacks for the sake of humanity as the nation needs to restore peace to fight the ongoing health emergency. To date the nation has reported 51 corona positive cases with one death but given the weak health infrastructure and poor living conditions of Libyan residents, it needs to be addressed with all seriousness.

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