In Libya, watercuts contribute to the misery of conflicts and corona viruses

TUNIS (Reuters) – Cutoffs in water and electricity supplies to Tripoli on Tuesday and Wednesday have tightened conditions for civilians after days of intense fighting that have undermined preparations to deal with the novel corona virus.

Nader Mohamed, taxi driver and father of three children in Tripoli, said the situation had gotten much worse. He lives on the fifth floor and has to bring the family’s water supply to their homes every morning.

© Reuters / Ismail Zetouni
FILE PHOTO: Damage can be seen after grenades fell on a residential area in the Abu Slim district south of Tripoli

You cannot afford a private generator and he sits with candles in the evening and tells stories from memories to the children.

“Besides the war, we now have a virus, and if it spreads, God only knows what will happen,” he said.

The recent surge in warfare since mid-March has shown no signs of easing, with fighting and bombing on several fronts, but no decisive gains from either side.

Libya’s primary division is between Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the east, and the internationally recognized Government of the National Agreement (GNA), which holds the capital, Tripoli, and some other parts of the northwest.

Related Slideshow: Attacks and Incidents Exacerbating Gulf Tensions Since May (provided by Reuters)

The LNA, supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, has set up parallel administration in Benghazi in the east and launched an offensive a year ago to conquer Tripoli, which often bombs the capital.

The escalation contradicts requests from the United Nations and international aid agencies to stop the fire so that the war-torn Libyan health system can prepare for the coronavirus. 21 cases have been confirmed across the country.

Projectiles hit al-Khadra hospital in Abu Salim, an area held by the GNA near a front line, on Monday. They caused damage and caused the United States humanitarian coordinator to denounce “a clear violation of international humanitarian law.”

Drones supplied by Turkey have targeted LNA supply lines in the past few days, and both sides said they hit trucks. On Sunday, they targeted a plane that carried weapons and medical supplies to the LNA, according to the GNA.

The use of drones “changed the balance,” GNA Deputy Secretary of Defense Salahedin Ali Namroush said in a phone interview. The drones were used to target “especially the supply lines,” he added.

The electricity company said there was a technical error behind the temporary supply on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the water utility, the Great Man Made River Project, said on Facebook that armed men stormed a control room and cut off the river on Tuesday.

“The situation is dire. Heavy fighting, coronavirus, and now we have electricity and water savings,” said Aynoor, an English teacher who asked not to use her family name.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; additional reporting by Hani Amara in Istanbul; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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