Libya Icrc
The protracted conflict in Libya had forced thousands of people to leave their home, where ICRC distribute food and other essential household items to the most vulnerable. Credit: ICRC/Fares Elabeid

Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on Wednesday said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has posed a “very heavy” impact on the already precarious economic and humanitarian situation in Libya.

Chairperson of the AU Commission made the remarks during a high-level meeting, which was hosted by the President of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is also head of the High Level Committee of the AU Contact Group on Libya, which dwelt upon the situation in Libya marked by an unprecedented challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ongoing military clashes, the closure of the oil fields since January 2020, the new pandemic and the preventive measures against its spread, in particular the confinement and the curfew decreed both in the East and in the West of the country, had a very heavy impact on the already precarious economic and humanitarian situation in Libya,” the AU chief told the virtual meeting.

Noting that the North African country’s income, based mainly on oil rent, has dropped drastically, Mahamat stressed that the “humanitarian situation has deteriorated more than ever following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“All manifestations of serious human rights violations are observed on a large scale. Arbitrary detentions, facie torture, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment of migrants and refugees have become the norm,” the AU Commission Chairperson said.

Mahamat also stressed that the virtual meeting on Libya “testifies to our continued commitment and our total solidarity with the brotherly people of Libya. These brotherly people face both the torments of an increasingly devastating war and the consequences of the dramatic spread of the coronavirus.”

“The flow of new military equipment and sophisticated weapons supplied to both sides in violation of the United Nations arms embargo has never stopped. They have even grown. These illegal activities from the point of view of international law jeopardize all initiatives to restore dialogue between Libyans and promote a political solution to the crisis,” he said.

According to Mahamat, such violations deepen the social divide and the fragmentation of ranks, in a country plagued by a multitude of factors of political, economic, regionalist, tribal and ideological divisions. The unprecedented rise in speeches inciting hatred and the use of violence and revenge is symptomatic of this fratricidal heartbreak.

” I associated my voice with the numerous appeals emanating from the international community, in particular that of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the cessation of hostilities during the holy month of Ramadan and the return to dialogue, the only way for a lasting political solution to the crisis in this country,” the AU Commission Chairperson said.

The AU Commission Chairperson also called for the cessation of external interference in internal affairs in Libya, in accordance with the Berlin declaration of January 19, 2020 when all the participants undertook to support the end of the fighting, to refrain from any intervention in the conflict.

Mahamat also stressed that the African Union continues to work for the implementation of the relevant decisions of its competent bodies and the Berlin declaration, which mandates it for the organization of the inter-Libyan National Reconciliation Conference, with strict respect principles of inclusion and broad representativeness.

“It is time to end this mechanic of destruction and death. It is also high time that the knights of peace and reconciliation compete with the war-makers,” he added.

Libya has been locked in a civil war since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Several armed militias of different backgrounds emerged, and have been fighting each other to take power, although a peace deal was signed by the warring parties on Dec. 17, 2015 in the Moroccan city of Skhirat. Enditem

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