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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid