Even the most Basic Rights are denied to Children in war torn Libya

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.

How to bring peace to Libya

The following has been prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officers Mais Mayouf and Ivan Tarkhanov for submission by the Next Century Foundation as a statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council:

The Next Century Foundation notes with concern the build-up of forces around the town of Sirte in the State of Libya. The near total violation of the UN arms embargo continues, as does the proliferation of foreign forces on the ground, many of whom are mercenaries.

Increasing levels of foreign involvement in Libya have helped a civil war become a proxy war. As things stand, the blatant breaching of the UN arms embargo sustains the proliferation of weapons in Libya.

The Next Century Foundation notes shortcomings with the way the arms embargo is currently enforced. It is important to emphasise that most weapons do not arrive in Libya by sea but rather by land and air.

Only a swift return to negotiations can avoid a bloodbath around the town of Sirte. The Next Century Foundation calls on both principal parties to halt the military buildup and return to talks. Any comprehensive political arrangement should also be approved by the Council of Representatives seated in Tobruk. It is vital that the unity and sovereignty of Libya remain the ultimate goal of any peace talks.
The need for a national, Libyan owned, political dialogue is paramount.

Peace building initiatives must harness local energy and include civil society actors to ensure a stable and socially grounded framework for a lasting peace. The Next Century Foundation believes that Libyan civil society actors have been grossly underrepresented in previous peace initiatives and in a failed state like Libya they are important.

Stop thinking of the Libyan conflict as a mere domestic issue. The conflict has caused great suffering in Libya but it has also proliferated instability throughout the Sahel and in the Mediterranean as a whole. Further escalation of the Libyan conflict will send ripples far beyond Libya’s borders.

Healing the Nations: Libya

Libya is a beautiful country with many resources and a wild history; we’ve passed through many tragedies and conflicts and we’ve survived them all, because we acted united with one voice and one hope.

Basically, by the end of Gaddafi’s rule, we had lived four decades believing that any troubles that don’t concern us directly aren’t too important – as long as we have “safety” everything is okay.

So of course, after the long period of fighting for freedom, we’re not going to accept another dictator. That would be one step back, like replacing an executioner with another. That is not respect for our martyrs, the youths who lost their lives for us.

But sadly since 2011, irresponsible and irrational young men carrying guns and using all kind of weapons, without training. Raids through civilian neighborhoods, we lost entire families, houses got destroyed, hospitals, airports and universities got raided, and they even put mines in houses.

What I want to say is we need a government that can support the citizens; that takes a stand controlling the streets militia, and that is willing and able to prevent any attacks without international involvement.

What Libyans need and yes I’m speaking on behalf of all Libyans, the people who have no interests in what’s going on, we need a strong civilian government, and trained police and army forces who are following this government, their loyalty must be for Libya only. The grudges and the lamentation over the past should stop, we should move on towards a brighter future. That’s what Libyans have hoped for and are still hoping for.

 

Are we born like this or did we learn this growing up?

The word “racism” was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary less than a hundred years ago, but racism started long before. Since the dawn of time, there have been people who feel superior either because of their bloodline, race, money, language, or gender. It comes to the surface in various ways, each a different picture, like that of the slave trade, racial discrimination, or of gender discrimination.

When the religious era came to the world, there were scripts against such behavior. The prophets came with a clear message that promoted the idea of equality and how we all must love each other. Some examples include one in the Torah, “You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman, but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love those that live around you as much as you love yourself: I am the lord” Torah (Leviticus 19:17). “You shall love the stranger like yourself” Torah (Leviticus 19:34). And the Bible “This is what I command you: Love each other as I have loved you.” Gospel of John 15:12. And the same ideal is mentioned in Islam, “And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Surely in this are the signs for people of sound knowledge.” The Holy Quran, Al-Rum (The Roman), Surah 30: verse 22. And furthermore: “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white except for piety, all mankind from Adam, and Adam from dust.” The Farewell Sermon of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Some people may qualify these quotes claiming one has only been sent to the Jewish people, one to the Christians, or one to Muslims, and maybe accuse them each of being an exclusive message on discrimination to one religion, but anyone who really understands the essential significance of religions would know that these messages were sent to all people. After all aren’t we all from same mother and father, Adam and Eve? And aren’t all religions originated from one another?  Wrong understand of religion would only add another type of discrimination which is religious discrimination.

I believe that some engaged in politics in many countries may have induced discrimination indirectly, for example, when a crime happens, the media would place emphasis on the nationality and the religion of the criminal instead of just mentioning the cause and the circumstances of the incident. Rather than just put all the blame on the individual, they give them an excuse for what they’ve done, and that, in my opinion, provokes the aversion of citizens against each other, and greater chaos would be produced as a result.

Another perspective is that, as the whole universe is linked together either by land or water and of course we all share the same sky, it’s impossible to not live together. One way or another people will inevitably find themselves with other people, some of whom they don’t like because of discriminatory reasons; so we should learn how to live in harmony together. As Carl Schurz, a German revolutionary who subsequently emigrated and became an American journalist, said “From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor’s rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own”.

Admittedly, I’ve always found myself fascinated by the differences; different colors, languages, accents, cultures, food, thoughts, and differences in the way of living. These diversities, in my opinion, are what give the world its balance and its equilibrium. After all, no one gets to choose his color, race or to where they belong, so it’s inequitable to treat someone according to something they didn’t have a choice in. As a matter of fact, people do not wait for others to accept them, rather they want to be treated with the same rights as everyone else. Honestly, that’s not much to ask and as Abraham Lincoln, an American statesman and the 16th president of the United States, said “These men ask for just the same thing: fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as is in my power, they, and all others, shall have”.

The whole universe is based on differences, not only human beings but you can see it if you take a deep look at mother nature, and just wonder what do you think the view would be if there was one color for the flowers or one shape for the trees or if the sky is always blue? How would you feel if all animals sounded the same, or if all foods tasted the same?

Probably it’s not a fair comparison, although it gives us signs and pictures for the balance in the world. One perhaps would think if animals and other beings can live together in a limited environment why can’t we do in such a huge unlimited world? Speaking about this kind of thing will just leave us with many questions, but maybe the way to change things is to start by questioning yourself.

Citizens trapped between war and COVID 19 in Libya

Covid 19 is the nowadays issue, and family meetings and conversations among friends aren’t free of it. You cannot fail to think about the extent of its impact on everything that surrounds us, our social life, our mental health, and certainly, economic conditions.

For some people it’s a subject for contemplation. Who among us hasn’t given a thought to how this tiny thing, that one cannot see with the naked eye, could make the world stand on one finger, make the world stand still. A “sick leave for the environment”, an environment which has been functioning day and night for thousands of years, so that we may live the life we ​​aspire to. I don’t deny the negative aspects, but it’s also important that we do not exclude the bright side of the existence of this pandemic.

Admittedly, one of the things that I’m always thinking about – particularly after we saw  the response of the developed countries to this disease, which did not satisfy many of their citizens, especially with the large number of deaths and infected people that increases daily in high proportions – is how the developing countries, especially those facing internal conflict, will deal with this pandemic?

We will shed little light on Libya, which, after having a revolution against an authoritarian and dictatorial government, that was part of a series of so-called “Arab Spring revolutions” that started in the sister country of Libya, Tunisia in 2011. “Arab Spring” is a meaningless name, as after these revolutions, these countries are now living an autumn that hasn’t come to an end. The fall of its fallen leaves is represented in many human lives lost. Libya is passing through civil war that targeted all Libyan cities and towns, until fighting eventually moved to its capital, Tripoli.

Tripoli has been facing conflicts that lasted for more than a year now, which led to a population over stacking at its center; as many citizens living in its suburbs were forced to leave their homes in the search for security in the city center, in addition to a previous presence of many other displaced people from other cities that had also come in search of security in the capital.

On March 14, 2020, Mr. Fayez Al-Sarraj, the head of the Presidential Council of Libya,  announced “the state of emergency” after the outbreak of the disease in the world, especially in neighboring countries, and took many measures, including closing borders and airports, suspending studying in schools and universities, closing all restaurants and shops, and imposing some regulation in grocery stores and bakeries to limit the spread of the disease. A lot of people have made the attempt to adhere to the new regulations and commitment to social distancing, which included not gathering in mosques and holding prayers at home. However, there were no sufficient medical preparations (in terms of medical staff, emergency teams, sterilization teams, and availability of PPE) to receive cases. Consequently, on March 24, 2020, when the first case was recorded in Tripoli, there was an obvious confusion among the medical staff, after the symptoms and travel history of that patient were confirmed with the diagnosis of Corona virus infection. This confusion continued, and was made worse by the security situation and the state of war the city is passing through and that included targeting the Khadra Public Hospital, where a health isolation center was supposed to be established.

Nearly two weeks after registering the first case, a medical committee and a sterilization team were formed and transformed one of the health centers into a center to detect suspicious cases, and set up a health isolation center to receive critical cases in a hospital in Tripoli, and provided medical personnel and care staff to deal with moderate and non-critical cases at their homes, and of course, supplied the hospitals with the personal protective equipment needed. In addition awareness programs have been established targeting all media and social media, and training courses for medical staff and volunteers, and all of that under the supervision of the CDC in Tripoli.

Also, Libyan embassies in most countries took care of the Libyan community abroad, and one of the procedures they use is to test people wishing to return home, and in cases where the sample was positive, they would be isolated in hotels paid by the Libyan authority, and if it was negative, they’d be allowed to return home on condition that they isolate themselves in their homes and refrain from mixing with their families and friends for two weeks.

All of these procedures maintained a low rate of infections and also very low mortality rate. The total registered case was 70 infections and 3 deaths in two months, and the cause of death of these three people was the presence of underlying health problems in addition to infection with coronavirus, and the percentage of cases that were cured was very high. According to reports from Tripoli CDC, it’s likely that the reason behind the low infection rate is probably the genetic factor of the patients and the strain that infected this region is different from the strains that infected Asia, Europe and America.

From my point of view, what was the main reason behind these numbers were the measures that the state launched and the people’s commitment to it. Whereas, as soon as there is a little easing off from from both the state and the citizens, especially since the return of the Libyans from abroad, and the entry of travelers in legal and illegal ways, and their lack of commitment to the self-isolation imposed on them, the number of infections have reached 90 cases in the last week of May alone. The question now is: Is this because of the state’s negligence and corruption or misbehavior and irresponsibility of the people? I want to place the blame on the citizens, but is it possible to put the blame on them in this very bad security situation in which homes are not completely safe, where the death rate of people as a result of shells falling over their homes is much higher than the death rate as a result of corona virus?

 

المواطنون المحاصرون بين الحرب و covid-19: ليبيا

حديث الساعه الذي لا تخلو الاجتماعات العائلية ومحادثات الاصدقاء منه، بل انه يكاد ألا يكون إلا حديث النفس، اقل ما يفكر به الواحد منا هو مدى تأثيره على كل ما يحيط بنا في حياتنا الاجتماعية، وعلى صحتنا النفسية، وبالتأكيد الأوضاع الاقتصادية.

انه موضوع للتأمل بالنسبة لبعض الاشخاص، من منا لم يفكر في كيف لهذا الشي الصغير الذي لا يرى بالعين المجردة أن يجعل العالم يقف على اصبع واحد، بل أن يجعل العالم يقف. “اجازة مرضية للبيئة” التي تعمل ليل نهار منذ الاف السنين لكي نحضى نحن بالحياة التي نطمح لها. لا انكر الجوانب السلبيه ولكن من المهم ايضا ان لا نستثني الجانب المضيئ من وجود هذا الوباء.

من الاشياء التي لم تغيب عن تفكيري، لا سيما بعد ما رأينا كيف كانت استجابة الدول المتقدمه لهذا المرض، والتي لم تلقى رضى الكثير من المواطنين خصوصا مع هذا العدد الهائل من الاصابات والموتى التي تزداد بنسبه كبيرة يوميا، هو كيف ستستطيع الدول النامية ،وبالاخص تلك التي تواجه العديد من المشاكل والصراعات داخلها، مواجهة هذا الوباء.

سنسلط قليل من الضوء على ليبيا والتي بعد أن قامت بها ثورة ضد النظام السائد المتسلط والدكتاتوري، ضمن سلسة من ما يطلق عليه “ثورات الربيع العربي” التي بدأت في الدولة الشقيقه لليبيا، تونس في عام 2011،  والتي لم تأخد من اسمها شي؛ فقد دخلت تلك الدول من بعد هذه الثورات في خريف لم تظهر له نهاية، خريف اوراقه المتساقطه تتمثل في العديد من الخسائر البشرية. ليبيا التي تمر خلال حروب اهلية استهدفت كل مدنها نهاية في عاصمتها طرابلس.

طرابلس الان تواجه مرحلة من الصراع دامت اكثر من عام، مما ادى الى تكدس للسكان في مركزها؛ حيث ان الكثير من المواطنين القانطين في ضواحيها اضطروا إلى أن يتركو منازلهم بحثا عن الامن وسط المدينة، بالاضافه إلي وجود سابق للعديد من المهجرين من مدن اخرى ايضا كانوا قد قدموا اليها بحثا عن الامن في العاصمة.

في يوم 14 مارس 2020 خرج رئيس المجلس الرئاسي السيد فايز السراج ليعلن حالة الطوارئ بعد تفشي المرض في العالم و خصوصا في البلدان المجاورة، واتخدت العديد من الاجراءات منها اغلاق الحدود والمطارات، وتعليق الدراسة في المدارس والجامعات، واغلاق كافة المطاعم والمحلات التجارية، وفرض بعض الاجراءات على محلات المواد الغدائة والمخابز للحد من انتشار المرض. وكان هناك اقبال للعديد من الناس على الالتزام بالقوانين والالتزام بالمسافات الاجتماعية، والتي كان من ضمنها عدم التجمع في المساجد واقامة الصلوات في المنزل، ولكن لم يكن هناك استعداد طبي (من ناحية الكادر الطبي وفرق الطوارئ وفرق التعقيم وتوفر معددات الحماية الشخصية) لاستقبال الحالات. في يوم 24 مارس 2020 سجلت اول حالة في مدينة طرابلس، وكان هناك ارتباك ملحوظ للطاقم الطبي بعد ماتوافقت اعراض وتاريخ السفر للمريض مع تشخيص عدوى فيروس كورونا، استمر هذا الارتباك والذي زاد من سوءه الوضع الامني وحالة الحرب التي تمر بها المدينه والتي كان من ضمنها استهداف مستشفى الهضبة الخضراء العام والذي كان من المقرر انشاء مركز عزل صحي داخله.

بعد مايقارب اسبوعين من تسجيل اول حالة، تم تكوين لجنة طبية وفريق تعقيم، وتحويل احد المراكز الصحية الى مركز للكشف عن الحالات المشبوهة، واقامة مركز عزل صحي لاستقبال الحالات الحرجة في احد مستشفيات طرابلس، وتوفير كادر طبي للعناية بالحالات المعتدلة وغير الحرجة في منازلهم، وتوفير كافة المعدات الطبية ومعدات الحماية الشخصية. كما اقيمت ايضا برامج توعيه استهدفت كل وسائل الاعلام ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، ودورات تدريب للكوادر الطبية والمتطوعين، جميعها تحت اشراف مركز مكافحة الامراض في طرابلس.

واهتمت السفارات الليبية في اغلب الدول بالجالية الليبية بالخارج، ومن الاجراءات المتبعة هو اخد عينة من الاشخاص الراغبين بالعودة، وفي حال ان العينة كانت موجبة يتم عزل المريض في فنادق مدفوعة التكاليف من الحكومة الليبية، اما اذا كانت سالبة فيسمح لهم بالعودة، ولكن يجب عليهم عزل انفسهم في منازلهم والامتناع عن الاختلاط بعائلاتهم وذويهم لمدة اسبوعين.

كل هذه الاجراءات حافظت على نسب منخفضه من الاصابات وايضا نسب قليلة جدا من الوفيات، حيث وصلت عدد الاصابات 70 اصابة وعدد حالات الوفاة 3 حالات خلال شهرين، وكانت سبب وفاة الحالات الثلاثه هو وجود مشاكل صحية مسبقة بالاضافه للاصابة بعدوى فايروس الكورونا، وكانت نسبة الحالات المتماثله للشفاء مرتفعة جدا، ويرجح السبب وراء ذلك الى العامل الجيني للمرضى و كذلك السلالة التي اصابت هذه المنطقة والتي يمكن ان تكون مختلفة عن السلالات التي اصابت اسيا واوروبا وامريكا. من وجهة نظري ان ما كان سبب رئيسي وراء هذه الارقام هو الاجراءات التي اطلقتها الدولة والتزام الناس بها. حيث أن ما إن حصل القليل من التسيب من الدولة ومن المواطنين، خصوصا  منذ رجوع الجالية الليبية من الخارج، ودخول المسافرين باشكال قانونية وغير قانوينه، وعدم التزامهم بالحجر المنزلي المفروض عليهم، حتى وصل عدد الاصابات في الاسبوع الاخير فقط من شهر مايو الى 90 حالة. يضل السؤال الان: هل هذا بسبب تقصير من الدولة وفسادها او تسيب واستهتار من الناس؟ اريد وضع اللوم على المواطنين، ولكن هل يمكن وضع اللوم عليهم في هذا الوضع الامني السيء للغاية الذي تعتبر فيه المنازل ليست امنة تماما، حيث نسبة وفاة الناس جراء قذائف تتساقط على منازلهم اعلى بكثير من نسبة الوفاة نتيجة الكورونا ؟