Shedding light on life in Libya
Nine years of conflict have taken a severe toll on the country’s people, with almost 400,000 displaced and access to the most basic things in life becoming progressively more difficult for most. The combination of several worrying developments – armed conflict, increasing COVID-19 cases and its impact on livelihoods and the economy – has brought thousands of protesters to the streets since late August, protesting deteriorating living conditions, persistent water and electricity cuts and corruption. This is an insight into three people’s lives from south, east and west Libya.
Conditions deteriorate in the south – going from bad to worse
“The living conditions in Sebha went from bad to worse, especially after the closure of Sebha airport and the stoppage of fuel shipments to the city. The situation predicts a humanitarian catastrophe in Sebha and the southern region in future if these issues are not resolved,” says Abdulrahim Abdulaziz. He is chairman of Shaghaf, a local NGO in Sebha working on empowering youth through community dialogue, debates and humanitarian work.
Abdulrahim’s warning comes as Sebha and the southern region are experiencing ever-lengthening power cuts, shortages in fuel and a sharp increase in the prices of goods. “Prices have increased up to 15-20 per cent in the past 20 days. The price of fuel in the black market increased up to 1500 per cent compared to the official price,” he said. “Even mobile communication services are on the verge of collapse due to fuel shortages, while farmers struggle to water their crops as they cannot operate the water pumps without electricity.”
The current fuel and power crisis are not something to which Libya’s southern region is unaccustomed, but as conditions continue to deteriorate in the midst of the pandemic, people are facing increased challenges. As one of the hardest-hit areas in Libya, health care centers in the south were severely impacted by the power cuts. In September and again in October, Sebha’s isolation center suspended operations, and much needed testing of suspected cases of the virus, when it ran out of diesel fuel to operate its generators.