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Homeless for seven years

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TRIPOLI – Since 2011, Libya has experienced several waves of armed conflict, which have led to massive displacements of people. Over those seven years, like many other Libyans, the security of a home has eluded Hawa Ramadan and her family. Like many other Libyans, she has known several makeshift homes in many cities, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.

Hawa is a 42-year-old Libyan born with a disability. Her sisters have stuck with her, carrying her out to safety each time conflict forced them to flee. Her family now lives in the Al Sayyad camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

As of August 2018, about 194,000 people were internally displaced across Libya and it is estimated that 97,000 IDPs will need humanitarian assistance in 2019.

In 2011, when the uprising and subsequent conflict reached Hawa’s hometown, Tawergha, she and her family were caught by surprise.

“Militias burned down everything around: houses, fields … I was terrified, as I was seeing everybody run but I could not,” recalls Hawa.

Her sisters carried her out to a car and they fled out of the city. In the past seven years, Hawa had never visited a doctor. She received a wheelchair when she arrived at the camp.

But she barely goes out of the camp. “I don’t feel like [doing] anything in life anymore. I don’t feel like eating. It is not a life we are leading here,” she says. “Living conditions here are difficult. Our bathroom and kitchen are communal facilities. I wish we could go home but all is burned down; there is nothing left.”

During her recent joint OCHA-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mission to Libya, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, visited another camp for IDPs, Al Fallah, in Tripoli and met with several members of the 200 families living there, according to OCHA.

Khadija, a resident, does not remember her age but can recall with clarity the day she had to flee her home in Tawergha.

“They [militias] came and hit us. They shot at us. We started running away, without having the time to take anything with us. And the children were stumbling in the flight,” says Khadija. “My husband could not run, and they killed him on the spot. I was alone and with nothing, not even spare clothes to get changed.”

“I wish we could go back to our town and live again. Here, thank God, we are safe and surviving, but it is not a life. When it rains, water pierces through the ceiling into the room we use as a bedroom and living room at the same time. It gets flooded everywhere,” adds Khadija.

During the 2011 uprising and subsequent insecurity and conflict, the entire population of the city of Tawergha, approximately 43,000 people, were forced to flee their homes. Most of the people ended up in camps around Tripoli and Benghazi. The IDPs are eager to return home. The United Nations is in discussions with the Government to ensure a safe and voluntary return in dignity for the IDPs to their homes with access to essential services, while providing them immediate assistance in their current area of residence.

 

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