The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in a statement issued by a UN spokesperson Saturday, welcomed the responses by the Government of National Accord and Khalifa Haftar’s militias on 18 and 21 March respectively, regarding accepting a halt of hostilities in the country.
“Given the already dire humanitarian situation in Libya and the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary-General calls on the parties to join forces to address the threat and to ensure unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout the country,” the statement reads.
Guterres also hoped the humanitarian pause will be translated into a lasting ceasefire, calling on the parties to accept the draft ceasefire agreement emanating from the 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva last month.
In a separate statement, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), also hailed the developments and expressed the hope that that the parties stop the fighting immediately on all fronts to allow national health authorities and health partners to respond to the potential threat of COVID-19 in the country.
The UN mission called on all parties to join forces, work together and direct their powers and resources to support Libyans and local authorities to improve their preparedness to battle Coronavirus pandemic and prevent catastrophic consequences.
UNSMIL said that the efforts should include allowing unhindered access to the provisions of humanitarian assistance, goods and food items, as well as allowing WHO and health sector partners to work unimpeded in all parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy joined the UN Support Mission in Libya in welcoming Khalifa Haftar’s announcement Saturday evening that he will join the Government of National Accord (GNA) in observing an immediate and reciprocal humanitarian cessation of hostilities as called for by the Department of State in its statement earlier on the same day and by many international partners in recent days.
The US embassy said in a statement that strict adherence to a cessation of hostilities by Libyan actors and their foreign supporters is the only way to enable Libyan authorities from across the country to combine their efforts as they seek to effectively combat the COVID-19 crisis.
The US embassy urged all combatants to follow through on their pledges to stand down from military operations immediately.
Haftar’s spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari said from his quarantine, as he was lodged there after arriving from Egypt, that their forces had agreed to the ceasefire.
Haftar’s acceptance of the ceasefire came hours after the US called on him to do so, however; he later on the day broke the commitment to the halt of hostilities by firing rockets on different civilian areas in Tripoli, killing a father and injuring two of his sons as one rocket landed in their house in Kihili area in Ain Zara, south of Tripoli.
A UN-appointed mission to Libya said on Monday there are “probable mass graves” yet to be investigated, possibly as many as 100, in Tarhouna where