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  • "Everyone is thinking about their lives.

  • They don't know what to do anymore

  • because whenever there's a shelling,

  • you can't leave your house.

  • So you just have to sit and wait for your fate."

  • After years of civil war, many Libyans

  • have come to expect the bombings,

  • the airstrikes, the clashes.

  • But now Libya faces the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Now life in this conflict zone that

  • seemed like it couldn't get any worse

  • suddenly has in just a matter of weeks.

  • "The war should stop in order to have a better chance

  • of dealing with the virus.

  • It doesn't mean that we will easily beat it."

  • But the war hasn't stopped.

  • Years of conflict have not only

  • led to conditions that make it easier for the virus

  • to spread but forces pushing to seize the capital city

  • now seem to be exploiting the pandemic to inflict

  • maximum terror on civilians by shelling areas where people

  • are clearly trapped at home under curfew

  • and by attacking Libya's already overwhelmed

  • hospitals.

  • There are 25 confirmed cases of the coronavirus

  • in Libya as of April 12, but testing is extremely limited,

  • and the number is likely to grow.

  • In the capital of Tripoli, residents face a dire choice.

  • Do they stay in their homes and risk getting hit

  • by shells or do they flee and risk contracting the virus?

  • "Everyone's worried.

  • They don't know what's going to happen with their lives.

  • Is it going to end because of the coronavirus?

  • Is it going to end because of the continuous shelling?

  • People are just lost."

  • Libya's civil war began six years ago.

  • And the fighting is between two main groups,

  • the UN-recognized government of National Accord,

  • based in the capital of Tripoli

  • and the Libyan National Army led

  • by a military strongman who's based

  • in Benghazi to the east.

  • For the past year, the LNA has been

  • attacking Tripoli on its push to control the country.

  • The front line has moved into the suburbs,

  • sending residents fleeing deeper into the city,

  • crowding closer together.

  • We spoke to one resident who's had to move twice,

  • from this area further and further into the dense city.

  • She asked that we only use her voice.

  • These conditions will likely make it much easier

  • for the virus to spread.

  • When the pandemic began, both sides of the conflict

  • imposed curfews.

  • They readied hospitals and public areas.

  • They put on masks and continued fighting.

  • Eventually they agreed to pause

  • the fighting because of the virus,

  • but the agreement didn't last.

  • The LNA had pledged on Facebook

  • to halt its advance on Tripoli--

  • --but we found that its forces resumed attacks on the city

  • within minutes.

  • And just one day after the first confirmed coronavirus

  • case was announced, the LNA began its worst shelling

  • on residential areas that anyone could remember,

  • despite the fact that people were clearly

  • stuck in their homes under curfew and self-quarantine.

  • "I've never felt so close to death

  • as I am feeling right now, right here in Tripoli.

  • You're living in confusion, and you don't know--

  • you're just very lost."

  • It's in moments like this, under mandatory curfew

  • and under a rain of shells, that many

  • feel there's no way out.

  • It's not just people at home being hit.

  • It's doctors at work too.

  • The LNA has rarely attacked major civilian hospitals

  • over the past year, but since the pandemic,

  • one hospital complex has been struck three times

  • in less than a week.

  • The hospital was well known for treating

  • coronavirus patients.

  • It was evacuated and forced to briefly close.

  • The international community condemned the hospital

  • attacks but to little effect.

  • The war continues to rage.

  • One analysis found that violence

  • in Tripoli over the past year has

  • spiked during the pandemic.

  • "And the fighters, I mean, you cannot really quarantine

  • them.

  • They are moving from a city to another.

  • Despite the situation that we have,

  • they are going to take their share of the hospitals' beds,

  • and that will make dealing with coronavirus patients

  • even harder."

  • Some international aid has reached Libya,

  • but the world at large is mostly focused elsewhere

  • on fighting the pandemic and their own countries.

  • And so many Libyans are left to fend for themselves

  • as they wait to see just how far the war and the virus

  • will spread.

"Everyone is thinking about their lives.

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What Happens When Coronavirus Invades a War Zone | NYT News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/15
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