COVID-19 could have a devastating impact in Libya and threatens hundreds of thousands of people, as health care professionals in the country have been called on to provide assistance on the frontlines of the ongoing conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a press release on Sunday.
“Today, some medical professionals who need to be trained on COVID-19 infection prevention protocols keep being called back to the frontlines to treat the injured. Clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed caring for war-wounded and those with chronic illnesses, so their capacity to receive COVID-19 patients is limited. They need more support and resources to face this challenge,” ICRC’s head of operations in Libya Willem de Jonge said in the press release.
De Jonge also urged the Libyan authorities to ensure that deliveries of humanitarian aid can reach those who need it, amid lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including curfews and border closures.
Additionally, Libyan citizens are being forced to return to their homes near the conflict’s frontlines over fears that they could spread COVID-19 among their elderly relatives, ICRC said.
“Displaced Libyans, including some of our colleagues, have told us they have no choice but to return to their homes near the frontline, for fear they could bring the virus into the homes of their elderly parents or family members,” Maria Carolina, ICRC’s deputy head for Tripoli, commented.
As of Saturday, Libyan authorities have confirmed 25 cases of COVID-19, resulting in the death of one person.
Clashes between troops loyal to the Government of National Accord, Libya’s UN-backed government, and the Libyan National Army have continued despite international efforts to reach a lasting ceasefire in the country.