News / Africa

    Life for Residents in Opposition-Held Libya Calm But Anxious

    A youth sells hats, flags, and other souvenirs in the colors of the opposition flag to those gathering for Friday prayers in the square next to the courthouse on the corniche in Benghazi, Libya April 15, 2011
    A youth sells hats, flags, and other souvenirs in the colors of the opposition flag to those gathering for Friday prayers in the square next to the courthouse on the corniche in Benghazi, Libya April 15, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Scott Bobb

    The fighting in Libya has devastated coastal cities in the central part of the country, but life in parts of the rebel-controlled east has settled into some measure of uneasy calm.

    It is market day at Findiq Market, Benghazi’s largest vegetable market. Business is good despite fighting a few hundred kilometers away.

    Raja Salem has come shopping with her husband, Ahmed. She says tensions here have eased considerably since opposition forces consolidated control of this city of 800,000 people.

    She says most things are available in the market, but some things are missing. There is a shortage of fruit and the prices are higher.

    Abdullah Mohamed owns a tire shop. He says almost everything is available nowadays. But with pro-Gadhafi forces attacking cities less than 200 kilometers away, security is the biggest concern.

    "Just the threat, because people are afraid of any attack from… you know [pro-Gadhafi forces]," Mohamed explained.

    A few weeks ago, the mood was desperate as troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi entered the city.

    Fearing a possible massacre, Western governments launched air strikes against pro-Gadhafi planes and tanks. And the opposition forces pushed the Gadhafi troops out of the city.

    The fighting caused hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to flee Libya. Shop owner Majdi Abdelmonem is from Egypt. He has stayed on but, he says, everyone is afraid.

    He says all foreign nationals, not just the Egyptians, were scared after Gadhafi said in a speech that the foreigners were nothing. They were not human. So we were all afraid that we would be massacred.

    The estimated two million foreign workers provide a great deal of the manpower in Libya whose population totals only six million. Because of their flight, many shops and factories are now closed.

    Ulrich Reuter is part owner of an engineering firm that was building a water reservoir and cell phone towers in Libya.

    "For us, our business is stopped at the moment," noted Reuter.  "Most of our young people are involved in the fighting and actually we cannot operate any business now."

    Despite the uncertainty, life goes on. The markets are stocked mostly with products from neighboring Egypt. And businessmen like Reuter plan to stay.

    "We have to see now how this will come to an end," added Reuter.  "And I think after this there will be a lot of work to rebuild country. You have seen the streets here, you have seen the infrastructure. There is a lot of need."

    He says first the new government and institutions must be established.

    The interim council governing eastern Libya has exported its first tanker of 100,000 barrels of crude oil.

    It has announced the heads of its petroleum company and central bank. And it says it is consulting with local businessmen on establishing letters of credit so they can resume importing goods.

    But with the fighting still raging a few hundred kilometers away, local businessmen say it will be some time before they can re-open their shuttered enterprises and start to revive the economy and put people back to work.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora