On Sunday, April 5, the allied forces of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) hit a cargo plane near Tarhuna, southwest of Tripoli, which Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) controls and uses as a base. The LNA’s forces, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, have been trying for a year to capture Tripoli. An LNA spokesman said the plane was carrying medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, but the GNA disputed the claim and said it was carrying ammunition.
Why It Matters
Despite Libya confirming the first case of COVID-19 in late March, the LNA has continued its assault on the GNA-controlled western Libya. Even with the launch of the European Union’s Operation Irini, weapons and other military support continue to pour into the country in clear violation of the arms embargo agreed upon in Berlin in January. Libya’s health system has already been ravaged by the nine-year-long civil war and is ill-equipped to deal with a viral outbreak. The refugee crisis, with Tripoli as a point of departure for Europe, is likely to escalate amid the pandemic and Haftar’s continued assault on the GNA. This puts more pressure on European governments, having to weighs their professed commitment to human rights against public health concerns and growing anti-refugee sentiment.