Libya government in Tripoli announces state of emergency

The Libyan government in Tripoli announced a state of emergency in the capital and its outskirts. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 02 September 2018

Libya government in Tripoli announces state of emergency

  • According to a health ministry toll at least 39 people have been killed and some 100 injured in 5 days of clashes among rival militias
  • The Libyan capital has been at the center of a battle for influence between armed groups since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

BENGHAZI: Libya’s UN-backed government has announced a state of emergency in the capital and its outskirts as ongoing fighting has killed some 39 people including civilians in the past days.
The fighting erupted last week between armed groups from Tripoli against others from a town to the south vying for power in Libya’s capital. The Health Ministry said the fighting has also wounded 96 others.
Sunday’s statement by the government urged rival militias to stop the fighting and abide a UN-brokered cease-fire.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for an end to violence in Libya in accordance with a UN-brokered cease-fire agreement.
“The Secretary-General condemns the continued escalation of violence in and around Libya’s capital and, in particular, the use by armed groups of indiscriminate shelling leading to the death and injury of civilians, including children,” a statement from Guterres’ office said.
“The Secretary-General calls on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and abide by the cease-fire agreement brokered by the United Nations and the Reconciliation Committees.”
In a joint statement Britain, France, Italy and the United States have said they “warn those who tamper with security in Tripoli or elsewhere in Libya that they will be held accountable for any such actions.”
Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. The country is currently governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the east, each backed by an array of militias that wield real power on the ground.

Meanwhile, two people were killed when a rocket hit a camp for displaced people in Libya’s capital on Sunday as fighting between rival armed groups continued to rage, an activist said.
On Saturday, rockets hit a hotel in central Tripoli and a fuel depot south of the capital, the focus of one week of heavy fighting between different armed groups.
The missile fell on the Al-Fallah camp for displaced Tawergha people, killing two and wounding seven, including two children, said Emad Ergeha, an activist following Tawergha issues.
The Tawergha were forced to leave their settlement near the western city of Misrata in the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 and have been prevented from going back since.
Ergeha, a Tawergha himself, also posted a video of fire fighters extinguishing a fire and showing severe damage to steel-made containers in the camp.
A rocket also hit the Waddan hotel in central Tripoli near the Italian embassy. Three people were wounded, staff said.
State oil firm NOC confirmed one of its diesel depots used to supply a power station had been hit by a rocket.
Fierce clashes erupted last week between the Seventh Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 65 km (40 miles) southeast of Tripoli, against the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades (TRB) and the Nawasi, two of the capital’s largest armed groups.
Although the government is formally in charge, it does not control the capital where armed groups are allied to it but operate with autonomy, often motivated by money and power.
This cames as some 400 detainees escaped after a riot on Sunday at a prison in the southern suburbs of the Libyan capital Tripoli, theater of a week of deadly battles, the police said.
“The detainees were able to force open the doors and leave” as fighting between rival militias raged near the prison of Ain Zara, the police said in a statement, without specifying what crimes the escapees had committed.
Guards were unable to prevent the prisoners escaping as they feared for their own lives, the statement said.
A police official contacted by AFP was unable to provide further details.
Most detainees at the prison have been convicted of common crimes or were supporters of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, found guilty of killings during the uprising that toppled his regime.


‘Braking’ boundaries: Palestinian women seek new chances

Updated 18 min 35 sec ago

‘Braking’ boundaries: Palestinian women seek new chances

  • Palestinian women are pushing boundaries in the traditionally conservative city of Hebron
  • ‘(Society) has changed a little. There have been some developments, but not enough’

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories: As the 30-ton truck weaves through the crowded Palestinian streets, groups of men stop and gawp at the diminutive figure of Dalia Al-Darawish in a purple headscarf seated behind the wheel.
Darawish is preparing for an exam to become one of only a handful of qualified female Palestinian truck drivers, a test the 26-year-old sees as about more than just driving.
“It is symbolic,” she said. “It shows we can do anything — that as a woman you can work, drive a trailer or whatever.”
The mother-of-two is among several Palestinian women pushing boundaries in the traditionally conservative city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, amid a growing assertiveness of women’s rights.
Darawish said she had faced criticism from both sexes as she trained, but the men were far more vocal.
“They are some who supported, a minority,” she said. “But then there are people shouting in the street, ‘No, why are you driving a trailer?!’”
“Whenever I made any mistake you would find men shouting, ‘It’s impossible (for you)’.”
At the driving center, she shakes slightly as her black-moustached examiner Issam Bedawi explains the test.
After briefly demonstrating her ability to detach and re-attach the trailer, the two clamber up into the carriage and drive off.
Recent months have seen protests in the West Bank after a 21-year-old woman was allegedly killed by her family members after posting a photo with her soon-to-be fiancé on Instagram.
The demonstrators are demanding more protection for women, but also a more prominent political movement for women’s rights.
Palestinian women still often give up their careers to care for children.
A World Bank study last year found that 58 percent of skilled women between 25 and 34 were unemployed, compared to 23 percent of men.
The general unemployment rate for women (44 percent) is double that of men, according to official Palestinian statistics.
Wafaa Al-Adhami had long dreamt of being an artist, but didn’t have the opportunity to study growing up.
But five years ago and with the kids older, she returned to her passion, studying hours of videos about artists on YouTube.
“Painting and art courses are expensive and I had no time,” she said. “So I loved educating myself.”
“Every artist has their own style, and I wanted to find mine,” she said.
From her living room table with an array of children passing through, she developed a specific layering technique for her work, pouring the paint onto the canvas before sculpting and manipulating it.
The result is a 3D texture that she says is unique among Palestinian artists.
Her inspiration ranges from Palestinian icons such as the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem to more Jackson Pollock-inspired surrealism.
A recent 40-work exhibition was a big hit.
Elsewhere in the city, 31-year-old Asia Amer has set up what she believes is Hebron’s first women-only restaurant.
The idea behind the Queen Restaurant, she said, is to give women a space to feel at home.
Those who normally wear the hijab can remove the headscarf if they wish.
“I felt that it was the right of women to have a place they can relax in — where there are no restrictions or people watching her,” she said.
“I am proof that Palestinian women don’t just stay at home to cook and look after the children.”
Back at the driving test center, Darawish pulls the trailer to a stop and waits nervously as Bedawi tallies up the score.
“I’m happy to say she passed,” he announces. “Everything I asked of her during the test she did fantastically.”
Darawish doesn’t even know if she will work as a truck driver, as right now she is still looking after her children.
But she said she wanted to help drive change in attitudes.
“(Society) has changed a little. There have been some developments, but not enough,” she said.
“If there had been big movement, men who see a woman driving a trailer would be happy or they wouldn’t say anything at all.”