Water has been cut off to millions of Libyans living in and around the capital Tripoli, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the country said, condemning its use as a "weapon of war."
Tripoli’s water supply was cut off following an armed attack on the country’s water sources in the southwest on Monday. The network was disrupted by members of an armed group in Shwerif, a region 350 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Tripoli under control of forces loyal to eastern-based militia leader Khalifa Haftar.
"More than two million people, including 600,000 children, who live in Tripoli and surrounding towns and cities, are suffering from water cuts for almost a week now," Yacoub El Hillo said in a statement issued Friday.
As Libya struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, officially recording one death and 24 cases of COVID-19, "access to water and electricity is more than ever lifesaving", the U.N. coordinator added.
"Such individual acts to collectively punish millions of innocent people are abhorrent and must stop immediately."
According to the U.N., the humanitarian situation has deteriorated to levels never previously witnessed in Libya. Between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, The U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) documented at least 685 civilian casualties (356 deaths and 329 people injured). Around 149,000 people in and around Tripoli have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the Haftar’s offensive in April 2019, and nearly 345,000 civilians remain in frontline areas with an additional 749,000 people estimated to live in areas affected by the clashes. It is estimated that around 893,000 people need humanitarian assistance.