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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid