Today’s children in Libya are trapped by the horrors of war which often takes place in civilian neighborhoods, often near schools. The following is written by a young Libyan NCF volunteer:
Children living in Libya have been coming under direct attack, missiles often actually directed toward their homes and schools. Many Libyan families have had to leave their homes as the warring factions use Libya’s cities as battlegrounds, often looting the homes as they go, sometimes completely destroying them. Far too many families are constantly on the move, trying to find a safe, affordable place to live. Sometimes they just end up living with friends or relatives; two or more families sharing the one home.
The nature of modern warfare has changed. There is more fighting in populated areas, leading to more child casualties. Children have been used as human shields. Weapons and guns placed in schools which make them a target for more attacks. Many children have had to leave their schools because they’re no longer safe. Some children have had to work or to beg for money in order to support their families.
Another catastrophe is the recruiting of children to fight, with the false promise of a better future and the temptation of access to money and drugs. As a consequence, they end up either getting killed, maimed, or enduring psychological damage and a whole new generation of murderers and drug abusers are thus created.
Of course, if houses and schools aren’t safe, the streets on the other hand are worse. Lack of security is making the streets a possible place for kidnapping or getting shot by a stray bullet. So in addition to dying in the bombing we’ve lost a lot of children who got shot by a stray bullet from an unknown source. More and more, we feel the effect of losing loved ones in this war. Most of the children in Libya have either lost a family member or have a disabled person in their house as a result of the war.
Transportation of medicines and vaccines to the country, and between the cities isn’t easy, as the airport is one of the places most targeted in the bombing, and also the highways between cities and towns are closed either because of the fighting or the presence of bandits. This situation makes it hard for children to get their vaccinations on time, especially in small towns. Additionally many vaccines end up being ruined by the lack of refrigerated transport on long journeys.
All in all, the problems we have here are homeless children with an ambiguous future and many psychological issues along with drug addiction, criminality, and death. After all that these children have been through, a mentor is what they need not just to fix their mental problems but also to guide them towards a brighter future. However, many families aren’t able to find out whether their children are suffering from mental problems or not, and even if they do, the cost of psychological consultation and mental treatment is quite high.
The ongoing armed conflict also continues to impede the functioning of the judicial system, limiting its ability to process cases of children’s rights violations or to bring those responsible to justice. Perpetrators of serious children’s rights violations and abuses continue to operate without fear of being held to account for their crimes.
Our children came to the world with no intentions, predictions, or expectations. The only thing a child wants is a warm safe home, and that’s something children in Libya don’t have. It is our responsibility to provide it to them, but all they have got is sleeping every night in fear, a fear that they don’t even understand.