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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    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 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 Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    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.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.