Dispatches from Benghazi: Crisis Alert

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October 2014| A makeshift barricade outside Buhdaima, a district targeted by missiles and car bombs.

It has been exactly one month since the last phase of Operation Karama began in Benghazi, launching a full scale street war in the city between the Libyan army and the terrorist group calling itself ‘The Revolutionary’s Shura Council’.

Today also happens to be the one year anniversary of the Gharghour massacre in Tripoli, in which a militia went on a murder spree in our nation’s capital. It is a depressing fact that those who participated in this massacre are now controlling Tripoli, in a fashion very similar to Gadhafi’s grip on the city during the Libyan revolution.

But I’m not posting today to complain some more about the war (which sucks) or to reminisce on past crimes (which also suck). No, this post is more of a plea. If you are from an aid agency or humanitarian group, or if you know someone who is, Benghazi needs your help.

Benghazi is currently facing a major humanitarian crisis. A petition is being circulated, started by a group of Libyan activists, which demands that Benghazi be declared a disaster zone. While groups like the Libyan Red Crescent and the ‘We’re Benghazi’s Family’ campaign are doing their best to help people, they can’t do it alone. There are several issues the city is currently dealing with.

Piles of trash outside a public building in the Laithi district

Piles of trash outside a public building in the Laithi district. 

1) Environmental Crisis: Because mobility has become restricted in the city due to the fighting, no one has been collecting the garbage. It’s been piling up, and while there have been several attempts in various neighbourhoods to clean up the trash, it’s not enough.

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Refugee supplies being stored in a classroom, in one of Benghazi’s public schools. (Photo courtesy of Idris Elbadri) 

There’s been a noticeable increase in flies and other insects, which could potentially spread diseases, and this could get worse as we transition further into the rainy winter season.

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A classroom inhabited by one of the families from Bu’Atni, who have been here for months. (Photo courtesy of Idris Elbadri)

2) Refugee Crisis: Several areas have been evacuated in Benghazi due to the intensity of the clashes, including Sabri, Souq Al-Hout, Selmani and Garyounis. Those who do not have family members to stay with must seek refuge in public schools. These schools are already hosting several families from the previous months’ fighting, and more schools are being opened as the number increase.

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An apartment in Garyounis caught fire after a rocket hit it.

3) Infrastructure Crisis: Street warfare is the clumsiest type of war, because you can’t ensure what your weaponry will hit. Several houses, public buildings and utilities have been hit by stray artillery, and Benghazi’s infrastructure was already bad to begin with. The University of Benghazi is currently part of the battle field as the militia groups hide inside the campus buildings, and the damage has been reported to be extensive.

4) Financial Crisis: With the closure of the banks, people are finding difficulty in purchasing essential products as their available cash depletes. Those who run private businesses are also facing heavy losses to their livelihood.

There have also been reports of food and medicine shortages in some districts, an education crisis because schools and university have been closed, along with other problems, but I think you get the general idea. Telecommunications have become limited in the city, which is why not many people realize the full extent of the crisis here. The United Nations is currently engaged in a political tug-of-war and have all but ignored the human aspect of Libya. The Interim Government and House of Representatives have also been less than helpful. Regardless of which side you support, the safety and security of civilians should come first.

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2 thoughts on “Dispatches from Benghazi: Crisis Alert

  1. I don’t personally know anyone at an aid agency or humanitarian group, so all I can do is Facebook your post, which I will.
    Take care.

  2. Pingback: LIBYA After Gaddafi: The Humiliation & Horror of the ‘Failed State’… | the burning blogger of bedlam

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