News / Middle East

    Drug Use, Smuggling Increasing in Libya

    Drug use is on the rise in Libya, as a host of post-revolutionary challenges after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi prevent the government from stemming the tide.

    The evidence of drug use isn’t hard to find in Libya’s capital, from discarded syringes littering small parks in residential side streets to the smell of pungent hashish being smoked in the rubble-strewn remains of toppled strongman Gadhafi's former residential compound.
     
    According to the chairman of the national security committee of the country’s parliament, Abd Al-Wahhab Muhammad Qaid, drug trafficking is a serious challenge for the Libyan government, with narcotics flowing in from its southern neighbors, Chad and Niger.

    “I live in the south and I know we have big borders, and in fact we suffer from many things - from illegal immigration and drugs. We don’t control our borders,” said Qaid.

    Border enforcement lacking

    With Libya’s security forces still in disarray, there is little coherence in the policy of border enforcement.
     
    A 400-kilometer section near the town of Gadhames adjacent to Algeria is patrolled by a handful of militiamen. The pilot of the one spotter plane that has been deployed has only a cell phone to contact ground forces.
     
    A lot of the smuggled narcotics - hash, amphetamines and cocaine - is destined for the lucrative markets of Europe. Last month, the authorities seized a boat off the coast carrying 25 tons of hashish.

    Libya isn’t just a trans-shipment point, though. It is a market itself. There are increasing reports of Libyans using drugs, presenting both a public health crisis, as well as a law-and-order problem.

    Crime on upswing

    Police claim that 80 percent of Libyan crime is drug-related, with traffickers and dealers fighting nightly turf battles in Tripoli and Benghazi, and addicts resorting to carjacking and robbery.
     
    And the public health side of the problem is being ignored, said Kamal Aisharif, a 34-year-old dental technician. He has set up a non-governmental organization to publicize the drug crisis and to work in schools to explain the damage that drug addiction causes.

    “It is worse than before. The most popular now is hashish and pills, amphetamines. No one talks about drugs from my side I think it is the most big problem in Libya. Children in schools know nothing about drugs, the risk of drugs and side-effects,” said Aisharif.

    Aisharif said the Gadhafi government closed the country’s few detoxification units in 2009 and 2010, and now there is just one for the whole of Libya - a 34-bed facility in Benghazi.

    And he said he is worried about the dangerous mix of drugs and guns.

    “I am worried because, you know, most crime happens in Tripoli, for example, because of the drugs, people under drugs, and they don’t know what they do, and they have guns and they are out of control,” said Aisharif.

    There are only seven people trained as drugs counselors in Libya. Aisharif is now planning training courses for more.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Shakirally from: Canada
    March 06, 2013 12:08 PM
    Welcome to the "Democratic Republic of Libya".

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.