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U.N. warns of Libya arms build-up and virus surge

Some 70 resupply flights had landed in eastern airports in support of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) of Khalifa Haftar since July 8, Stephanie Williams told the U.N. Security Council.

In the same period, 30 flights and nine cargo ships had carried materiel to western Libya to assist the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

She did not name the countries involved. The LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, while the GNA is backed by Turkey.

The conflict has fed into a wider tussle for influence among those countries in the eastern Mediterranean area. Williams warned that any reckless action “risks igniting large-scale confrontation, with the devastating consequences this would entail. Now is the time for restraint.”

Libya’s conflict and a blockade on oil exports by eastern forces have worsened living conditions amid a rapid surge in the coronavirus in some parts of the country, with the number of confirmed cases doubling over the past two weeks to 15,156.

“Exponential increases are a worrying trend with community transmission now reported in some of Libya’s main cities,” Williams said, adding that the true scale of the pandemic in Libya was likely far higher than recorded numbers showed.

“Nearing full collapse after more than nine years of conflict, the health care system is unable to respond,” she said.

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