The military targeting of civilian infrastructure, especially of water supplies, is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, writes Nafeez Ahmed. Yet this is precisely what NATO did in Libya, while blaming the damage on Gaddafi himself. Since then, the country’s water infrastructure – and the suffering of its people – has only deteriorated further.
The deliberate destruction of a nation’s water infrastructure, with the knowledge that doing so would result in massive deaths of the population as a direct consequence, is not simply a war crime, but potentially a genocidal strategy.
Numerous reports comment on the water crisis that is escalating across Libya as consumption outpaces production. Some have noted the environmental context in regional water scarcity due to climate change.
But what they ignore is the fact that the complex national irrigation system that had been carefully built and maintained over decades to overcome this problem was targeted and disrupted by NATO.
During the 2011 military invasion, press reports surfaced, mostly citing pro-rebel sources, claiming that pro-Gaddafi loyalists had shut down the water supply system as a mechanism to win the war and punish civilians.
This is a lie.
But truth, after all, is the first casualty of war – especially for mainstream media journos who can’t be bothered to fact-check the claims of people they interview in war zones, while under pressure from editors to produce copy that doesn’t rock too many boats.
Critical water installations bombed – then blamed on Gaddafi
It was in fact NATO which debilitated Libya’s water supply by targeting critical state-owned water installations, including a water-pipe factory in Brega.
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