UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro, strongly condemned the suspension of water pumping from the Great Man-Made River, which interrupted the fresh water supply to hundreds of thousands of Libyans.
Ribeiro posted on the UN mission’s Facebook page: “Such attacks on basic civilian infrastructure, vital for civilians’ life, could amount to war crimes.”
Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, stated that the UN is deeply concerned about the disruption of the water supply to Tripoli.
During a press conference that, Dujarric said: “an armed group stormed the main water distribution station in Tripoli on Sunday and shut down the valves supplying Tripoli and other cities in the northwest of the country, including Gharyan and Zawiya, with water. This can affect about two million people and their access to water.”
He confirmed that “some areas in Tripoli are already experiencing a drop in water pressure”, stressing that “unless the valves are reopened, the full impact of this problem will be felt in the course of the next two days.”
The presidential council of the Government of National Accord held Haftar’s forces responsible for cutting off the water supply to Tripoli.
The presidential council’s statement said: “the UN Security Council must preserve its role in protecting civilians” while surprise over the international community’s silence regarding “such a crime which is classified as a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
The statement said that denying three million people, living in the capital and some cities in western Libya, their right to have access to water and “subjugating the Libyan people to further grievances after displacing them and indiscriminately bombarding their homes constitutes an unprecedented violation that Libya has not witnessed even during the colonial era.”
The agency responsible for the implementation and management of the GMR project announced the end of pumping water from water wells, after an armed group loyal to Haftar broke in the site of Shuwairf and forced the workers to close all flow control valves and shut down the wells, as they waited for their demands to be met.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Monday, the agency stated that the water cuts would result in the interruption of water supply to the Tripoli and some cities in western and central regions.
In addition to hindering the water pumping project aimed at securing the water supply to Gharyan and some of the towns of the Nafusa Mountains, which was programmed under the operation plan.
The Great Man-Made River is a network of pipes that supplies water to the Sahara in Libya, from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System fossil aquifer.