The Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has violated Libya’s cease-fire deal and shelled Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport and residential neighborhoods, according to officials from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) speaking to Anadolu Agency. The militias have continued their attacks, despite LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari saying on March 21 that his side welcomed a cease-fire proposed by the United Nations and European countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A GNA official reported that two girls were killed in an artillery strike in southern Tripoli on March 24.
Why It Matters
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting severe strains on the capabilities of the United Nations, Europe, and the African Union to manage the Libyan conflict. With countries on lockdown and world leaders struggling to manage the economic fallout from these measures, the political will and financing for conflict resolution diplomacy has been moved to the back burner. This means armed conflicts that had been winding down might reignite as opposing factions see a window of opportunity, now that international oversight is weakened. In Libya, the acceleration of the civil war could displace many more people, who would try to flee either to neighboring Maghreb countries or to Europe, though hard border lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus mean these refugees would be the hardest hit from an LNA advance.