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ICRC Fears COVID-19 Will Compound Suffering of Conflict-Ridden Libya

A nurse checks the temperature of a man before he enters a medical clinic, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Misrata, Libya March 31, 2020.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling on Libya to ensure delivery of humanitarian aid while maintaining preventive measures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement issued in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, the ICRC expressed deep concern that “hundreds of thousands of Libyans are caught in an intensifying conflict as COVID-19 threatens to spread and debilitate the country’s fragile health system.”

Libya and the Libyan people “need more support and resources to face this challenge,” the statement said.

Enforcement of curfews and border closures to curb the spread of the disease, although important as preventive measures, are creating new challenges for the delivery of humanitarian aid and keeping supply chains for food, medicine, and basic needs open.

“Authorities must ensure that delivery of humanitarian aid is facilitated while maintaining preventive measures such as physical distancing, or those who depend on it will suffer tremendously,” the statement said.

For its part, the ICRC is providing medical supplies to hospitals and primary health care facilities in the country and is delivering other medial items to health workers on the front line.

The ICRC is also sending food and household items to people in need. Its water and sanitation teams are working with local authorities to increase access to clean water in many areas affected by the conflict and to improve sanitation by supporting sewage-processing facilities.