Joseph Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy expressed his concern that the conflict in Libya would result in a rapid outbreak of COVID-19 inside the country.
In press statements on Monday, Borrell said that Libya, unlike places of conflict in Yemen and Afghanistan, has partially heeded the UN’s global call for a ceasefire, stating that the EU still fears that the fighting in Libya worsen.
He added that the situation in Libya has not yet improved, explaining that the international calls have not successfully managed to urge the Libyan warring parties to fully stop fighting despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.
In a speech, published by the EU’s official website, Borrell confirmed that Libya’s conflict escalated sharply in April, with fierce fighting on several different fronts in the west of the country despite urgent calls from the U.N. and aid agencies for a truce to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
World leaders met in Berlin in January to set the basis for what they had hoped was a fresh chance for a peace process. But the new wave of fighting has been fuelled by arms imported from abroad.
The European Union has launched a new naval and air mission in the eastern Mediterranean to stop more arms from reaching warring factions in Libya but cannot patrol the Egypt-Libya land border, through which weapons are still being delivered.
The EU is concerned that the conflict could worsen regional instability and swell the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa almost a decade after Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011.