Trump, Erdogan stress need for Syria, Libya ceasefires

Trump, Erdogan stress need for ceasefires in Syria and Libya
2 min read
31 March, 2020
Humanitarian organisations have expressed deep concerns over coronavirus outbreaks in conflict-torn Syria and Libya.
Ceasefires are 'more necessary than ever', the two leaders agreed [Getty]
US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday stressed the need for ceasefires in Syria and Libya during the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said.

The two spoke by phone on efforts to "defeat the virus and bolster the global economy", the White House said in a statement.

They "agreed it is more important now than ever for countries in conflict, particularly Syria and Libya, to adhere to ceasefires and work toward resolution".

The Syrian regime has so far reported only a handful of coronavirus cases, but opposition activists have alleged a cover-up of a more widespread outbreak.

Health experts warn that the country, torn apart by years of civil war, is especially vulnerable to the rapidly spreading, sometimes fatal virus. 

Read more: For Middle East refugees, social distancing is a privilege few can afford

The northwestern province of Idlib, where around a million people have been displaced by conflict since December alone, is particularly at risk.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi and is divided between the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and forces loyal to eastern-based rogue general Khalifa Haftar.

The country's healthcare system is badly deteriorated, although the two rival powers have both instituted social distancing measures.

Ankara is a key backer of the internationally recognised Tripoli government.

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