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Previous story Libya: Coronavirus outbreak could be 'catastrophic' for migrants Next story
Published on April 4, 2020 10:51 PM

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Libya is a major gateway for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe.An outbreak of the coronavirus in Libya could be "truly catastrophic" for the internally displaced people (IDP) and close to 700,000 refugees and migrants in the war-torn country, the United Nations migration agency has warned.

Libya has so far reported 17 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including one death. It has enforced a nationwide curfew from 2pm to 7am and prohibited intercity travel to curb the spread of the virus that has infected more than a million people worldwide and killed more than 60,000.

The large oil producer has been engulfed in chaos since 2011 when longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a NATO-backed uprising.

Since 2014, the country has been split between two rival administrations. The internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj is based in the capital, Tripoli, while the House of Representatives, allied to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA), is based in the countrys east.
The plight of the Libyans and the migrants has been compounded by the continued fighting in the country. Since April 2019, forces loyal to Haftar have been fighting to seize Tripoli in an offensive that has killed hundreds and displaced 150,000 people.

The conflict has left Libya with "limited financial resources and shortages of basic equipment", while the "pandemic represents an additional challenge", the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) told Al Jazeera.

In an interview with Reuters news agency in March, the head of the Libyan National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Badereldine al-Najar, said "In light of the lack of preparations, I now consider Libya not in a position to ...