Posts Tagged ‘Libye’
The two TV stations that were closed were identified as Libya al-Wataniya and Libya al-Ramia
Libyan authorities have decided to shut down two public television stations taken over by Islamist militias embroiled in clashes in Tripoli, a government official said Tuesday.
“The authorities have closed ‘Libya al-Wataniya’ which had been under the control of the provisional government and ‘Libya al-Ramia’ which was the voice of parliament,” the official said, asking not to be named.
He said Nilesat had accepted requests from the heads of Libya’s government and parliament to halt transmission of the two satellite channels.
The two channels have thrown their support behind Islamists battling since July 13 with rival militiamen for control of Tripoli international airport.
(Source / 19.08.2014)
It’s easy to spot workers returning from Libya at the Cairo airport. They come through the doors of the arrival hall almost at a run.
In this image made from AP video on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, plumes of smoke and debris rise from a base of Islamic militias after a MiG fighter jet’s strike in Benghazi, Libya. MiG fighter jets, reportedly under the control of renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, struck in retaliation the bases of Islamic militias in Benghazi on Friday, as a coalition of Islamic militias over the past week captured a number of army bases in Benghazi, driving out troops and police and seizing large weapon stores.
CAIRO, Egypt — It’s easy to spot Egyptians returning from Libya at the Cairo airport. They come through the doors of the arrival hall almost at a run, one carrying a plastic bag, another a small backpack, eyes down, not scanning the crowd for a familiar face. Most are from Upper Egypt or the Delta region and their families are a long way from the capital. Some arrive in groups from the same village or town in Egypt, and many wear the long brown or gray cotton robe commonly worn in rural areas, dusty after days spent on the Libya-Tunisia border.
Libya’s two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, have seen heavy fighting among rival militias in the last few weeks, and daily life has “stopped,” according to an official at the Libyan embassy in Cairo who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Over the last 11 days the Egyptian government has sent 47 planes to the Tunisian border with Libya, sometimes up to seven flights per day, to bring back thousands of Egyptian workers stranded there fleeing the fighting near the Libyan capital. 11,500 Egyptians have been airlifted back to Cairo from Libya’s western border and thousands more have crossed over land near Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi. Despite these large numbers, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bader Abdel-Ati has called for calm: “We are not asking them to be evacuated,” he insists, but “we are asking them to be cautious.” He says the government is bringing “only those who are not comfortable” back to Egypt.
According to the International Organization for Migration, in 2010 there were anywhere from 330,000 to 1.5 million Egyptians in Libya, although that number has likely declined since then due to the deteriorating security situation. Most Egyptians go to Libya to pursue job opportunities, particularly in its large oil sector, and money from these jobs in the form of remittances flows into Egypt.
With a crisis on its eastern border in Gaza as well, Egypt is eager to minimize disruption and avoid panic. “Can you imagine one million people? To move all [of them], it would be a humanitarian disaster,” says Abdel-Ati.
Returning Egyptians report a harrowing scene at the Libya-Tunisia border where those who want to leave Libya wait, sometimes as long as 10 days, for a flight home. Though the migrants report that the International Red Cross is present to provide some relief, the Libyan authorities, they say, provide no food or water to those waiting in the scorching summer heat.
Clashes erupted on Aug. 1 when a large group of Egyptians and other migrant workers tried to storm the border and enter Tunisia. Ahmed Salim, 23, said that the Libyan authorities shot into the air and near the feet of Egyptian migrants. He also described an incident in which they drove a car at a group of Egyptians to frighten them.
Returning migrants report that those who were able to leave first were those who paid bribes on the Libyan side, anywhere from 90 to 200 Libyan dinars ($72-$160), and that their phones and other valuable belongings were often taken from them.
An official at the Libyan Embassy disputes these claims, asserting that all is well at the border, which he says is jointly administered by the Libyan army, representatives from the Libyan foreign ministry and Egyptian and Tunisian officials.
But France 24 captured a chaotic scene of the Aug. 1 attempted breach of the Tunisian border. The video shows men in uniform as well as in civilian clothes wielding weapons. Several Egyptians who have come back say that cameras are not allowed.
When asked about the ill treatment, Abdel-Ati said, “The good news is that they’re here; they came home alive.”
Abdelrahman Mohamed Ali, 40, who is from the Southern Egyptian province of Sohag, has worked in Libya on and off since 1992. He says that in the last month the treatment of Egyptians in Libya in general has gotten much worse.
“They insult us and say, ‘go back to your country,’” he says in a strong Upper Egyptian accent, adding that he was even pulled out of a line at a bakery by some local residents where he was waiting to buy bread.
He said it was not only the security situation that caused him to leave. The employment opportunities, which drew him to Libya in the first place, have almost all dried up.
“I’ve come back because there’s no work. There’s no security and there’s shooting in the streets … and even the banks are closed,” said a man from the Delta town of Mansoura who declined to give his name.
Egyptians are not the only ones fleeing Libya’s instability. In recent weeks hundreds of Thai, Bangladeshi and Vietnamese workers, as well as those of other nationalities and Libyans themselves, have been evacuated or fled.
As the violence has escalated, “how to survive in Libya” has become a new Internet meme with the hashtag #lysurvivaltips. Libyan Twitter users share suggestions such as “do not carry an ID showing your city of birth while driving,” in case you are stopped by a militia from a rival area, and “if you are caught in the middle of a gunfight, do not hide behind cars. Bullets can easily pass through doors.”
As the security situation worsens and work dries up, the economic toll will likely be felt in Egypt, a country already staggering with an official unemployment rate of 13.4 percent, while unofficial estimates are almost twice that number. Meanwhile its largest industry — tourism — has plummeted since the 2011 uprisings that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
“Remittances have traditionally been ranked as third after the Suez Canal and tourism in Egypt as a contribution to overall GDP … [with] a lot of it coming from Libya,” says Tarek Radwan, associate director for research at the Rafik Hariri Center in Washington, DC.
Radwan says that though strong family and community networks will likely mean that Egyptian migrants returning home will have some support, “a number of these families were actually relying on the money that those people were bringing in and so … that’ll put additional stress on particular families.” He adds that in conjunction with the removal of subsidies and an increase in the price of gasoline and basic commodities, the influx of unemployed workers is likely to “increase a level of desperation.” And the problem may get worse before it gets better.
For the moment, Abdel-Ati says, he does not think there are any more Egyptians waiting at the border. But he says that is is very possible, if the violence in Libya continues, that more people will decide to leave, increasing the pressure on Egyptian families already struggling to makes ends meet.
(Source / 13.08.2014)
In Zuwara, teams have provided more than 30,000 litres of water
Fighting in Benghazi and Tripoli has forced the displacement of hundreds of family and is having “grave humanitarian consequences” the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC) has said.
The humanitarian organisation, one of the few still operating on the ground in the country, said that the ongoing fighting, which has killed 214 and left 900 wounded, could cause the total collapse of the health system.
At least two million people are at risk of acute food shortages as intense fighting blocks the provision of stocks and supplies which are located in areas affected by the conflict. Similarly, the movement of medical supplies is being obstructed by the clashes.
“If the crisis continues longer, the situation will become a big burden on us,” Omar Ajaudah, Secretary General of LRC, said. “We ask for support to strengthen our response to the humanitarian needs of the displaced. Despite these challenges, we are carrying on with our efforts,” he added.
In Benghazi this week, Red Crescent teams brought 57 bodies to Benghazi Medical Centre. In cooperation with the city authorities, it has been helping ready schools to shelter hundreds of displaced families. The needs of these families, its said, are acute with food and water of greatest concern. In Tripoli more than 700 displaced families are being supported by LRC.
The LRC has counitued into its eighth consecutive day responding to worsening humanitarian conditions at the Ras Jedir border crossing into Tunisia.
“More than 6,000 people are crossing the borders with Tunisia each day, with the majority being migrants, mostly Egyptians, who are stranded on the Libyan side. Our volunteers have been deployed and supported Libyan families and Egyptian migrants with food and water,” Taher Cheniti, the Secretary General of the Tunisian Red Crescent said.
Tunisian authorities have, at several points in the last week, imposed the temporary closure of the border, with the exception of humanitarian cases, due to security concerns. As a result the Red Crescent branches in Zuwara and Nalut have been on high alert, supporting the displaced families and monitoring the southern border crossing of Wazen Dhaiba in the Jabal Nefusa where another crisis could erupt.
In Zuwara, teams have evacuated some wounded civilians and provided more than 30,000 litres of water to the stranded migrants and their hosts on the border with Tunisia.
Ajaudah called all parties involved in the conflict to cooperate with LRC as it fulfils its humanitarian role.
(Source / 08.08.2014)
Fighting between rival militias is threatening to tear Libya apart
An official and witnesses in Libya’s capital say random shells fired by rival militias fighting for control of its international airport hit oil depots, setting them ablaze after a massive fire last month.
The weeks-long violence in Tripoli and in Libya’s second-largest city of Benghazi have killed more than 200 people and wounded almost 900. The violence has forced diplomats to flee and close their embassies while foreign nationals and Libyan citizens streamed into neighboring Tunisia searching for safety.
A Libyan official at the National Safety Agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists, said the oil depots caught fire Saturday after
(Source / 02.08.2014)
Clashes between rival Libyan militias fighting for control of the international airport in the capital, Tripoli, have killed 47 people over the last week, Libya’s Health Ministry said.
The ministry said on its website late yesterday that the fighting also left 120 people wounded. It also said it had not yet received the full casualty report.
The weeklong battle over the airport is being waged by a powerful militia from the western city of Zintan, which controls the facility, and Islamist-led militias, including fighters from Misrata, east of Tripoli. The clashes resumed yesterday after cease-fire efforts failed.
Television footage broadcast yesterday showed a mortar shell striking a Libyan Arab Airlines plane and a column of black smoke billowing from inside the airport, which has been closed since last Monday.
Libya is witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
The rival militias, made up largely of former rebels, have forced a weeklong closure of gas stations and government offices.
In recent days, armed men have attacked vehicles carrying money from the Central Bank to local banks, forcing their closure. The Central Bank had said banks would reopen yesterday, but then remained closed as the fighting resumed.
Libyan government officials and activists have increasingly been targeted in the violence. Unknown gunmen kidnapped two lawmakers in the western suburbs of Tripoli yesterday, a parliament statement said, and urged the government to intervene to free them.
Last Thursday, a female lawmaker in a liberal-leaning political bloc in the outgoing parliament, Fareha al-Barqawi, was killed in the eastern city of Darna.
The motives behind the killing were not known, but such targeted killings rampant in Libya over the past two years have been blamed on the militias, which successive governments have struggled to control.
In the past two days in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, gunmen killed an army officer while he was driving home in his car, and a former special forces officer was shot dead in the downtown Salmani district.
The UN Support Mission in Libya said last week it was temporarily withdrawing its staff because of the deteriorating security situation.
(Source / 23.07.2014)
Delegations from Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger attended the two-day conference in Tunisia’s coastal city of Hammamet on Sunday.
“The unstable security situation is the result of the armed terrorists’ threat. Some extremist groups want to impose their ideology by violence and terror. This is a major challenge for democratic transition process in Libya. It is also a source of threat to all the neighboring countries,” said Tunisian Interim President Moncef Marzouki at the conference.
The Libyan delegation cancelled their visit to the meeting after heavy fighting broke out on Sunday between rival militias near the country’s main airport in Tripoli.
All participants expressed preparedness to provide more support to Libya by encouraging consensus building among all stakeholders in the country.
“We have reached an encompassing vision that all parties should help the Libyan people establish a national dialogue and then a national reconciliation among all the Libyan patriots who care about the dignity, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya,” Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told Press TV.
“Libya is going through a critical period. We are aware of the deep sufferings of our brothers in Libya. This is the result of the presence of the extremist armed militants,” Egypt’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Badreddine Zayed told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.
This week, thousands of Libyans fled their cities to escape the ongoing armed conflict between militias that reject state authority.
The Foreign Ministers of Libya’s neighboring countries assert that the escalation of violence in Tripoli and other cities threatens regional stability.
Nearly three years after the fall of the country’s former ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity as the country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups.
The former rebels refuse to lay down arms despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.
Thousands of angry Libyan demonstrators have frequently taken to the streets in different cities to protest against lack of security across the North African country.
(Source / 14.07.2014)
Smoke rises near buildings after heavy fighting between rival militias broke out near the airport in Tripoli July 13, 2014
Heavy fighting broke out between rival militias vying for control of Libya’s main airport on Sunday, killing at least seven people and forcing a halt of all flights in the worst fighting in the capital for six months.
Explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire were heard from early morning on the airport road and other parts of Tripoli until the situation seemed to calm down in the late afternoon.
Residents said that militiamen from the northwestern region of Zintan who had controlled the airport came under fire, and local TV footage suggested that the attacking rebels were from the western city of Misrata.
The fighting is part of growing turmoil in the North African oil producer, where the government is unable to control battle-hardened militias that helped to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 but continue to defy state authority.
Many Libyans are weary of militias whose members theoretically work for the government but who in reality appear to do as they please — fighting each other or seizing oilfields and ministries as they press their own financial and political demands on authorities.
Zintan forces, which have controlled the airport since Qaddafi’s ousting, and Misratis had been put on the state payroll in an unsuccessful attempt by the government to secure their cooperation and try to bolster the rule of law.
Seven people were killed and 36 wounded in the latest clashes, the Health Ministry said.
Comments on pro-Misrata websites suggested that the force was freeing the airport from Zintani control to hand it over to authorities.
The central government denounced the attackers as illegal. “The operation is led by civil leaders belonging to brigades and troops … moving without orders and legal cover,” the government of Prime Minister Abdulllah al-Thinni said in a statement.
Local news channel al-Nabaa showed men in military vehicles with Misrata insignia opening fire with heavy weapons.
Heavy smoke could be seen rising above the airport as an official said: “All domestic and international flights have been halted.”
Nabaa TV showed a Libyan Airlines plane and a transport aircraft engulfed in smoke while vehicles fired anti-aircraft volleys and fighters took up positions next to a field of sheep.
Social media websites said that several rockets had hit the airport perimeter. Photographs on Facebook showed thick smoke at what was said to be the parking lot in front of the terminal. Families were trapped inside the building, local websites said.
The fighting was the worst in the capital since more than 40 people were killed in clashes between militias and armed residents in November.
Tripoli has seen a spike in kidnappings but has been mostly spared the kind of violence that has rocked the eastern city of Benghazi, where clashes between Islamists and forces loyal to a renegade general occur almost daily.
The violence comes as the country awaits the results of the June 25 parliamentary elections. Officials and Libya’s partners had hoped the vote would give a push to state building and ease political tensions.
The OPEC member is divided between rival militias from urban communities and tribes, as well as Islamist and more moderate forces. Oil production has fallen to a fraction of the 1.4 million barrels a day that Libya produced before July 2013 when a wave of protests erupted at oilfields and ports.
The country’s oil output is currently 470,000 bpd, a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp said on Sunday.
The loss of oil revenues has sparked a budget crisis as Libya depends on energy exports.
(Source / 13.07.2014)
Tuareg voters leave a school that served as a polling station in Ghat, southwestern Libya, June 25, 2014.
Fewer Libyans voted this time for the Council House of Representatives as the new parliament is known, than in the general elections of 2012. In 2012, Libyans were full of hope and optimism after the NATO-Qatari-backed rebels toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. Democracy, stability, security, peace and above all freedom were the noble causes the majority of my countrymen were eager for. Yet, it took only three years to see all that crumble into a pile of wreckage.
No wonder this time that only 630,000 voted, less than half of the eligible voters registered to cast their ballots, compared with over 3 million in 2012. There were no party lists this time around, so every single candidate contested the election on his own, personal credibility. Full results, though, are not expected before July 3.
Many polling stations, particularly in Derna in the east of the country and Kufra to the southeast, did not open for security reasons on June 25. Libya’s election commission said 15 seats in the 200-seat parliament will remain vacant since elections could not be organized in some parts in the country while others have to be rescheduled. In Benghazi, after casting her vote, prominent human rights lawyer Salwa Bughaighis was killed after gunmen forced their way into her house. She was stabbed before being shot in the head. She was a well-known critic of armed groups in Benghazi. Later, it emerged that her Egyptian housekeeper, who was wounded in the attack, was killed while under police protection. He was the only witness to her murder.
It is important to understand why fewer Libyans voted this time, when the opposite was expected.
Earlier this year, a large sector of Libyans lost their trust in the democratic process after being disappointed over and over again. The body they elected in 2012, the General National Conference, was paralyzed by infighting, corrupt, busied itself with less urgent matters and overstayed its mandate. Had it not been for huge popular demands that the General National Conference should dissolve itself and call for new elections, and had it not been for the military operations launched by retired Gen. Khalifa Hifter, last week’s elections might not have taken place at all.
There is also among Libyans a strong sense of disillusionment with almost all political parties. Coupled with overwhelming disappointment with a lack of progress, the majority of Libyans did not see the point of voting for another transitional legislature many think will only be like its predecessor. Large sections of tribal and political elites believe that while elections are a priority to claim Libya back from the brink of full civil war, national reconciliation is far more important.
This is widely reflected in voting figures among Libyans abroad. Elections were conducted in 13 countries, including Egypt and Tunisia, where over 1 million Libyans live. Most of those people are anti-status quo, while many others are considered as pro-former regime. Out of 10,000 registered voters abroad, fewer than 4,000 cast votes. A closer look at the figures from Tunisia, for example, showed only 114 out of about 400 registered voters cast their ballots. In Egypt, it was even lower, with only 400 people voting among about 1,000 registered voters.
The Libyan diaspora, given its size and the experiences of its members, is the most qualified to manage the country. However, many of those people are barred from running for office for two main reasons: security and their disqualification under the notorious Political Isolation Law passed by the General National Conference under militia pressure aimed at purging the state of former regime officials.
Libyans are clearly not happy with the way their country is run and managed. The low turnout is testimony to the little interest people have in the political process in the new Libya. This is a dangerous trend in a new democracy, since it means a failure of the political elite as well as the government to gain the nation’s trust, reflect the people’s will and be truly representative of the public’s interests.
In any case, while the final results have yet to be released, the Libyan people are sure to come out as losers.
(Source / 01.07.2014)
A member of Libyan security forces stand guard on April 17, 2014, outside the Tunisian embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli
A Tunisian diplomat and a fellow embassy staffer abducted in Libya earlier this year were freed by their abductors on Sunday after months in captivity, an embassy source said.
“They have been freed and should be returning to Tunisia soon,” the source, who declined to be identified, told AFP, adding that the pair were in good health.
Diplomats in Tripoli say militias which fought to topple the Moammar Qaddafi regime in the 2011 uprising often carry out kidnappings to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans they hold.
(Source / 29.06.2014)
In this March 2014 image released by the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, Salwa Bugaighis, lawyer and rights activist, poses for a photograph during a meeting in Tripoli, Libya. One of Libya’s most prominent female activists was assassinated in the restive eastern city of Benghazi when gunmen stormed her house, the state news agency reported Thursday, in slaying that stunned human rights advocates. Bugaighis, was at the forefront in the 2011 uprising against dictator Moammar Gadhafi. She was among the most outspoken voices against militiamen and Islamic extremists who have run rampant in the country since Gadhafi’s fall
CAIRO — A prominent Libyan activist who had become an international face of her strife-torn country’s efforts to build a democracy was assassinated by gunmen who stormed her home in the restive eastern city of Benghazi shortly after casting her ballot in the country’s parliamentary elections, police said Thursday.
The slaying of Salwa Bugaighis stunned residents of her home city, politicians, activists and diplomats, among whom she was well known. International rights groups called on authorities to investigate, something many Libyans believe won’t be possible amid widespread fear of militias.
Bugaighis, a lawyer and rights activist, was at the forefront in the 2011 uprising against dictator Moammar Gadhafi. After his ouster, she became one of the most outspoken voices against militiamen and Islamic extremists who have run rampant in the country.
The identity of the gunmen was not immediately known. Islamic radical militias, however, have been blamed for frequent assassinations of secular activists, judges, moderate clerics, policemen and soldiers in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.
Bugaighis was shot in the head and stabbed multiple times on Wednesday night, just hours after casting her ballot, police spokesman Ibrahim al-Sharaa said. She was rushed to a hospital where she died of her wounds, he said.
Her husband, who is a member of the Benghazi municipal council and was also at home at the time, has disappeared since the attack and is believed to have been abducted, al-Sharaa said.
Earlier in the day, Bugaighis had been speaking by phone from her home on a Libyan TV channel about fighting raging near her neighborhood, sparked when militants attacked army troops deploying to protect polling stations.
On her Facebook page, she posted a photo taken out her window showing what appeared to be militants in fatigues with a black banner just outside her house.
“These are people who want to foil elections,” she told Al-Nabaa network as rattling gunfire interrupted her call. “Benghazi has been always defiant, and always will be despite the pain and fear. It will succeed.”
In the evening, five gunmen broke into her home, the house’s guard told police, according to al-Sharaa. They first asked about her son Wael, then shot the guard in the leg, and broke into the house. The guard said he heard gunfire from inside.
Bugaighis’ house is located in an area where two powerful Islamic militias are operating — Rafallah Sahati and Ansar al-Shariah, according to al-Sharaa. The latter is a prime suspect in the Sept 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
Bugaighis had only just come to Benghazi from the capital, Tripoli, to cast her ballot, Hanaa Mohammed, a family friend, told Libya Ahrar TV. She had fled with her family some time back to Jordan because of death threats against them. The son, Wael, survived an abduction attempt earlier in the year.
More recently, she and her husband came back and were staying in Tripoli, though their two children — including Wael — remained in Jordan, a family friend said.
Hours after her killing, the headquarters of a 60-member panel tasked to draft the constitution came under attack by a car bomb in the eastern city of al-Baida, al-Sharaa said. No one was killed in the attack, but the historic building used under the monarchy as parliament’s headquarters suffered damage.
In Washington, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice called the assassination “brutal and senseless.” She said she met Bugaighis in November 2011, soon after Gadhafi’s fall.
“I was deeply impressed by her courage, leadership and dedication to building a peaceful, democratic Libya,” Rice said.
Human Rights Watch paid tribute to Bugaighis and said that with her killing, “the original idealism of the 2011 uprising that overthrew Gaddafi’s tyranny has received another crushing blow, and many Libyan women have lost a role model.”
The European Union and United Nations missions in Libya also expressed shock and condemnation, and Amnesty International called on authorities to investigate.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Bugaighis “a courageous and respected human rights defender” and urged Libyans to “refrain from violence.”
Bugaighis was a well-known figure in Benghazi, where her family is among the oldest and most prominent. Since the civil war, she has represented Libya at international conferences.
During Gadhafi’s rule, she represented families of prisoners in Tripoli’s notorious Abu Selim prison, pressing the government for the truth of what happened to 1,200 prisoners who disappeared, most of them Islamists from Benghazi.
Bugaighis was a member of the National Transitional Council, the rebels’ political leadership body during the 8-month civil war against Gadhafi. Since then, she was deputy head of the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, which is trying to work out reconciliation among the country’s rival factions, tribes and communities.
“All supporters of the truth are threatened,” said Hassan al-Amin, another prominent activist and former head of the human rights committee in parliament, who fled abroad because of death threats.
Libyans voted on Wednesday in the country’s second parliament elections, hoping for stability after three years of chaos.
During her interview with Al-Nabaa, as shelling hit her neighborhood and smoke rose nearby, she urged people to vote, saying she hoped for a new parliament without the current domination of Islamists.
“I call upon our people in Benghazi to be steadfast and patient because elections must be accomplished.”