Corruption in Libya

For decades, Libya has endured countless accounts of corruption committed by the government, the militia and major oil corporations. The corruption in Libya derives from what political scientists call a “resource curse,” a term used to describe a nation that tends to have less economic growth and a weaker democracy due to its abundance of natural resources. Oil production has made the nation susceptible to corruption, leading the country into a civil war due to persistent violence and political unrest. Here are ten facts about corruption in Libya.

10 Facts about Corruption in Libya

  1. In 2018, Libya ranked as 170 least corrupt out of 175 countries, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. In the same year, Libya also scored a low 17 out of 100 in the Corruption Perception Index. The corruption primarily derives from the government, the public sector and private businesses.
  2. Corruption in Libya began during Muammar Gaddafi’s rule from 1969 to 2011. Gaddafi’s regime received billions of dollars in bribes from wealthy corporations to make illegal deals in the energy sector. A total of $65 billion of Libya’s wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), was held in private accounts instead of going toward public expenditures. While Gaddafi’s regime was profiting off of Libya’s national assets, more than 40 percent of the Libyan population lived below the poverty line.
  3. Eighty percent of Libya’s GDP and 99 percent of government revenue comes from oil production. In 2018, foreign exports of oil in Libya brought in revenues totaling $24.5 billion. The central bank in Tripoli controls these funds and is responsible for disbursing them throughout the country, but at the time there were no laws in Libya that demand the transparency of the bank to disclose the use of state funds with their constituents.
  4. Libya has anti-corruption laws; however, lax enforcement permits widespread corruption practices such as embezzlement and bribery among the public procurement sector. According to Libya’s Criminal Code, the Law on Economic Crimes and the Law on Abuse of Position or Occupation, “the abuse by a public official of his or her position or functions to obtain a benefit for himself or herself or for others” is established as an offense. Despite anti-corruption laws, the weakness of Libya’s institutional framework has given leeway to Libyan officials to misappropriate funds. Head of Organisation for Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC) Ali Ibrahim Dabaiba misappropriated nearly $7 billion in national assets and laundered them into personal bank accounts abroad. These funds were designated to go toward Libya’s public infrastructure, but Dabaiba instead put the money toward his interests, such as purchasing luxury hotels in Scotland.
  5. Corruption in Libya remains rampant even after the revolution and the assassination of Gaddafi in 2011. After the first civil war, violence and political instability persisted throughout Libya, and government ministers and the military have conflicted control of the country. General Khalifa Haftar is the leader of the militant offensive, and he promises to combat Islamist militias. However, through mobilizing the military to fight armed groups throughout the country and seize control of major cities, violence became even more prevalent and a second civil war was initiated in 2014. Haftar’s group, the Libyan National Army (LNA), has attacked several sites in the city of Tripoli. His military force has killed a total of 443 people, injuring more than 2,000, and displacing nearly 60,000 civilians in pursuit of gaining control over the territory.
  6. Corruption in law enforcement is also prevalent in Libya. Several reports show police officers engaging in malpractice including bribery, embezzlement, nepotism and extortion. According to a survey conducted by the Departments of Research and Studies of Organization for Transparency Libya, respondents ranked the police highest in spreading corruption. Some cases of police corruption that researchers discovered include police officers stopping drivers, seizing their drivers’ licenses and extorting drivers in exchange for their licenses.
  7. Activists and media workers across the nation of Libya are being silenced. In 2017, 11 out of 18 political, civil, and human rights activists and personalities, polled by the Human Rights Watch in Tripoli and Zawiyah, claimed to have been threatened by state militia, government, and armed groups, three have been attacked or harassed, and nine claims to fear for their lives after receiving threats. In 2016, the Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press (LCFP) reported that 107 media workers were attacked by armed groups including two journalists who were killed.
  8. Transparency International is one of the major organizations combating corruption in Libya. They aim to stop corruption in governments, businesses, and civil societies through the “creation of international anti-corruption conventions and the prosecution of corrupt leaders and seizures of their illicitly gained riches.” They have pushed legislation that has made bribing foreign officials illegal by enforcing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, which requires members to outlaw bribery of officials. For instance, In 2017, an investigation in France on Société Générale bank was opened because of its payment of $58.5 million to a Panama-registered company as part of a scheme to secure its business in Libya. A settlement was reached, and Société Générale committed to pay a total of €500 million to close this procedure.
  9. Civil Initiatives Libya (CIL) is a project that aims to empower and support civil society organizations (CSO). CIL is funded by the European Union and implemented by ACTED in 15 different municipalities in Libya. This initiative is imperative to solving corruption because CSOs are able to promote civic engagement and local governance, which can increase the fairness of the Libyan government. CIL centers provide facilities, technical assistance and funding to over 700 CSOs across Libya. In 2012, over 1,400 NGO representatives benefited from CIL’s facilities and training services. The project also involves hosting CSO events, workshops and training that revolves around women and youth empowerment. CIL has expanded the capacity of many CSOs and has made them strong and politically visible enough to be able to lobby the government and acquire funding from the national budget.
  10. Global Witness is a nonprofit that works to protect human rights by exposing corruption in nations that have an abundance of natural resources, including Libya. Their work involves holding hard-hitting investigations on corruption scandals in pursuit of holding corrupt leaders accountable. Their strategies include secret filming, satellite imagery and drone footage, data analysis of companies, and using anonymous sources. Through their resources, Global Witness is able to release detailed investigations on corruption all over the world and advocate for those who are victims of corruption by launching campaigns that bring awareness to global injustices. In 2002, Global Witness, Transparency International and many other NGOs co-launched the Publish What You Pay campaign, which mandates oil, gas and mining companies around the world to disclose their net taxes, fees, royalties and other payments. This campaign led to the creation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Since its launch, the EITI has put $2.4 trillion of oil, gas and mining revenues in the public domain.

These 10 facts about corruption in Libya illustrate the prevalence of abuse and fraudulence in Libya. However, even though corruption still permeates Libya’s institutions, efforts from around the world continue to prevent any further corruption by holding public officials accountable for their crimes.

If support from nonprofits, civil societies and advocates persists, Libya may be able to mobilize their local governments to sustain a better democracy and resist violent and corrupt regimes.

– Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Dhaka Tribune

Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya

In Libya, approximately 823,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. This prompted the World Health Organization to create a Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya (HRP). Through this plan, WHO targets 552,000 individuals suffering from the Libyan Crisis, which stems from the Arab uprisings and revolts in 2011.

WHO, as well as partner organizations, plans to provide humanitarian assistance that focuses on key needs such as protection, access to healthcare, education, safe drinking water and sanitation and access to household goods such as essential food and non-food items (NFIs). Here is a look inside WHO’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya.

Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya

WHO’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya targets seven sectors: education; health; protection; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); food security; shelter and non-food items and multipurpose cash. The health sector has the largest portion of people in need, with approximately 554,000 individuals. The two main objectives of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya are to

  • “provide and improve safe and dignified access to essential goods and critical public services in synergy with sustainable development assistance,” and
  • “enhance protection and promote adherence to International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law and International Refugee Law.”

This plan requires $202 million in funding. Therefore, each sector has designated funding based on the goals it plans to implement. The main sectors and their goals are as follows.

  1. Protection: The protection sector is geographically focused. The prioritized areas have the most severe conditions. The 2019 plan intends to bridge the gaps in data regarding protection from past years. The HRP also plans to expand protection monitoring, protection assessments and quality of services as well as reinforce community-based responses.
  2. Health: Several healthcare facilities were destroyed and damaged during the crisis. Non-communicable diseases have started to spread throughout Libya as well. The plan provides access to health services at primary and secondary levels. It also aims to monitor diseases. In addition, the plan prioritizes WASH programs, mental health and psychosocial support.
  3. WASH: Another key focus of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya is WASH. The plan hopes to focus its attention on newly displaced persons. Thus, the goals of the WASH sector aim to improve WASH facilities in detention centers, respond to urgent needs and technical support. In doing so, the plan hopes to ensure children have access to safe WASH facilities. It also advocates for the repair of the Man-Made River Project. Moreover, this sector will collaborate with the education sector.
  4. Education: The education sector plans to target 71,000 individuals. Children in high conflict areas are being mentally affected by trauma and distress. These can further affect school attendance and performance. The HRP wants to improve formal education by means of teacher training and provide more supplies for educators. As such, this sector will also prioritize mental health in grades 1-12.
  5. Shelter/NFIs: Shelter and NFI sector focuses on the population displacement as well as damages to infrastructure and homes caused by the uprisings. This sector seeks to secure safe housing for those who are displaced. This sector targets about 195,000 individuals to receive shelter aid.

Overall, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya is making strides. As of June 2019, WHO has provided trauma kits and emergency medical supplies to 35 healthcare facilities. This is an increase from the first provision in March. Similarly, medicines for chronic and infectious diseases have been given as well as insulin. In terms of mental health, in January, WHO trained 22 participants in mental health through primary health facilities. The sector also provided training for maternal and reproductive health as well. With this momentum, in time, WHO will continue to meet the goals and targets of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya.

Logan Derbes
Photo: Flickr

Civil War in Libya

On Feb. 15, 2011, the first civil war in Libya, also known as the Libyan Revolution, began. The Libyan Revolution was fought between Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and opposing rebel forces who wanted to overthrow Gaddafi’s oppressive government. The war lasted over eight months until Gaddafi was captured and assassinated in October of that same year.

Post-Civil War

A year after the war ended, two major political groups emerged into power, the General National Congress and the House of Representatives, also known as the Tobruk government. The HoR allies with General Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army whose leadership resembles that of Gaddafi’s.

As rival governments, the GNC and the HoR both seek control over Libyan territory and oil. Consequently, the Libyan Political Agreement was proposed to resolve the conflict, mandating the division of power between both governments. Under these terms, The Presidency Council was created. The PC presides the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and is currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Despite the agreement, more violence and instability ensued in Libya. Nevertheless, major actors like Haftar continue to violate terms mandated by the agreement. In particular, Haftar rejects the LPA and continues to oppose the GNC. In 2014, Haftar launched Operation Dignity, a campaign against Islamist militias. However, Libya Dawn, a pro-Islamist coalition, opposes this campaign and also seeks control over Libyan territory.

This breakout of violence spawned a second civil war in Libya.

The Current State of Libya

Today, the battle between rival factions is still ongoing and further exacerbated by the presence of terrorist groups, including ISIS. These groups have gained footholds in Libyan territories and seek control, training and recruiting members on Libyan grounds.

Moreover, the GNA mobilizes local militias to fight Haftar’s more organized and disciplined army. At the end of 2018, casualties in Libya reached 7,695 deaths with as many as 20,000 injured.

Having lost control over most of eastern Libya, Haftar has expanded the LNA westward. In April, the LNA advanced into the capital of Tripoli. Haftar has also launched several airstrikes into the city. Since the invasion of Tripoli, the U.N. Health Agency reported that 443 people have been killed and 2,110 have been wounded.

Humanitarian Concerns

The civil war in Libya has become an international issue, prompting the displacement of thousands of Libyans and causing a humanitarian crisis on the European border. About 90 percent of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe come from Libya. In 2018, the U.N. Refugee Agency reported that more than 1,111 migrants from Libya died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean.

The European Union provides resources and training to Libyan coast guards to intercept migrant boats entering Europe. The coast guard sends refugees who are entering Europe back to Libyan detention centers, where they suffer inhumane conditions including torture, kidnap, rape and trafficking. Libyan detention centers hold nearly 6,000 migrants and asylum seekers. However, these migrants consist not only of Libyans, as Libya is a transit point for other migrants from Africa.

Aside from fleeing groups, nearly 1.3 million people in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance. Thousands are living in unsafe conditions, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Within Libya alone, civil war has internally displaced 200,000 people as of October 2018.

Influence of Foreign Powers

The civil war in Libya is also highly diplomatic. All actors rely on external powers to support their efforts by providing funding and weapons. The civil war is sometimes seen as a proxy war between foreign powers because of their influence on internal actors.

The civil war in Libya impacts foreign powers, causing national security and economic concerns. Between ISIS’ increasing foothold in Libyan territory and thousands of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, the United States and the U.N. are concerned about national security. Additionally, many international oil companies rely on Libya’s oil production, and the conflict may disrupt oil prices.

The U.S. and the U.N. officially endorse the GNA, while Gulf states, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, endorse the LNA. In April, the U.S. and the U.N. appealed for a truce between the LNA and GNA in Libya. However, Haftar refused.

Nonprofit Organizations

Amid the violence and instability pervading Libya, several nonprofit organizations are working to mitigate the crisis. These organizations have committed to providing civilians aid and protection amid the civil war in Libya.

Among the organizations helping Libyan civilians is the International Rescue Committee. The IRC works on the ground, providing urgent care and protection to Libyans in conflict-ridden areas. Additionally, the IRC has multiple health centers and shelters across Libya that provide medical care and supplies.

The UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, is another organization helping civilians amid the conflict. The UNHCR aims to protect Libyan refugees by providing life-saving assistance, such as medical care and access to water and sanitation facilities, in 12 different disembarkation points in western Libya. The UNHCR works to resettle refugees and reunite families and advocates for alternatives to refugee detention centers, including care arrangements for children and family tracing. While conflict plagues Libya, the people of Libya can seek some hope and comfort in the efforts of nonprofits on the ground.

Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Heritage

stopping the slave trade in Libya

The rise in immigration and an increase in criminal activity are going hand in hand in Libya. Since immigrants are an especially vulnerable population with so many seeking asylum or other needs, criminals are more likely to target them. CNN released a report on the slave trade that is still occurring in Libya today. This report showed many people what is happening. With the influx of immigrants, it is important to see what efforts are being made in stopping the slave trade in Libya.

Libya has officially become a lawless state. The government has little to no control over what goes on, and criminals are taking advantage of this. Due to the large influx of vulnerable immigrants, the slave trade has now risen to an all-time high. Slavery has been outlawed in other countries; however, criminals don’t follow the rules. Dozen of people are still being auctioned off, some only being sold for $400. Immigrants often live in poverty and don’t what to do improve their conditions. Slave traders pick up on this vulnerability and use it to their advantage. Libya is the main transit point for immigrants that are trying to make it to Europe.

Stopping the Slave Trade in Libya

While looking at Libya and the events that are occurring there, a question arises: What efforts are being made in stopping the slave trade in Libya? The U.N. and the U.S. have been putting pressure on the government to investigate more into the crimes being committed. They urged Libya to take urgent action in these matters and to make it come to an end. So far, Libya went from not having the resources or support to track down these traffickers, to accusing and sanctioning six men. Since 150,000 immigrants cross into Libya each year, the U.N. involvement has been a huge milestone for Libya and those being sold into slavery.

Additionally, a new transit system has been put in place to make sure that immigrants are able to travel more safely. The more immigrants are provided safer ways to travel, the lesser the likelihood of being sold into slavery. At this new transit facility, run by the UNHCR, immigrants are not only being provided with safe shelter but also food, medical care and psychosocial support. UNHCR is bringing new hope for immigrants that are looking for a better life. It is a necessary facility that will bring international protection to those that are most vulnerable.

Many news outlets and people from different communities are now raising awareness on this topic. The more people to find out about what is being done in Libya, the more solutions can be found up and more actions can be taken. CNN is the original news outlet to exposed the slave trade that is happening in Libya. Afterward, more people started to take action and contribute to the conversation. By someone speaking out, it causes a ripple effect for organizations to come together and make a plan to help those being sold.

Canada is Providing a Refuge

Canada has taken action in making sure that those who were once former slaves are able to rebuild their lives. Providing the necessary housing and support can help those that fell victim to slavery to regain their life. More than 150 people who had immigrated to Canada were victims of the slavery that occurred in Libya. Canada will also be resettling another 600 people that are at risk of being sold into slavery. With the number continuously rising, Canada is doing it’s best to keep up with those that are seeking asylum and providing options for settlement.

Although the fight for stopping the slave trade in Libya is still raging on, new support systems are being brought in and making it so immigrants can feel safe. Governments, like in Canada, are now taking action, as well as organizations uniting together. The slave trade in Libya is still continuing today, but the situation in improving. By raising awareness about important topics such as this, it can act as a catalyst for other people to step in as well.

Hopefully, the immigrants and other vulnerable populations that are currently living through this tragedy can find some consolation in the fact that the world finally sees what is happening. The United Nations, the Libyan government and other organizations have dedicated their time to working towards one goal: stopping the slave trade in Libya. The measures that have been put forth thus far have already helped many people, and the next step in this journey is making sure that the rest people and immigrants of Libya are safe from slavery.

Emme Chadwick
Photo: Flickr

As conflicts in Libya move towards the capital, Tripoli, humanitarian organizations are working to help refugees in Tripoli. Thousands of residents in Tripoli are deserting their homes as the impending fighting poses safety concerns.

Since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, factions in Libya have battled for control of the country. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar is on the march to take territory from the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Now the LNA is moving closer to Tripoli, at times as close as seven miles south of the city.

The international community, such as the United Nations (U.N.), the U.S. government, and the European Union (EU) are concerned about Tripoli. In fact, these organizations are appealing for a ceasefire to avoid a bloody battle for the Libyan capital. The U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, told reporters “We have a very dangerous situation and it is clear that we absolutely need to stop it.” U.N. workers have been meeting with faction members in an attempt to bring together a peace process that eventually results in elections.

Increasing Refugees in Tripoli

Meanwhile, refugees in Tripoli, many of whom were in detention centers, are moving away from the capital to safe zones. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has already relocated more than 150 refugees.

In general, Libya is a major transit point for refugees from Africa trying to relocate to Europe. As a result of the conflicts in Tripoli, migration to Europe is increasing, as displacement is also increasing. In total, the U.N. reports 6,000 displaced peoples from Tripoli.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Food Stability

The U.N. is increasing the humanitarian response to help refugees in Tripoli. So far, 58 families have been evacuated. Additionally, the U.N. has established 12 shelters across Tripoli. They are working with the municipalities to find spaces for additional facilities. They anticipate that as the frontline shifts, some shelters will end up inside the conflict zone.

Together, the U.N. and the World Food Program (WFP), has collected enough food supplies to sustain 80,000 people for two weeks. That being said, as part of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), the WFP and other humanitarian partners are planning to distribute two-week dry rations to 100 displaced households.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Health

The U.N. has medical supplies stockpiled in four sites to provide treatment for up to 210,000 people. Six EMT teams are working across Libya to assist various hospitals. So far 15 civilian casualties have been recorded and verified by the U.N. A branch of the U.N., the U.N.’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene team (WASH) have hygiene kits stocked for up to 24,000 people.

Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing field hospitals, ambulances, and medical supplies. Dr. Sayed Jaffar Hussain, the WHO representative in Libya, implored the global humanitarian community to help, saying, “We fear that prolonged conflict will lead to more casualties, drain the area’s limited supplies and further damage health infrastructure… We call on the international community to ensure adequate funding to support the current crisis.”

U.N.’s WASH is also working on the logistics of treating, storing and transporting water to different areas of Tripoli. Addressing these goals include utilizing collapsible water tanks, water trucks and purifying tablets. They are also working to negotiate with armed groups for the protection of water shipments, advocating that water should not be used as a weapon.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Safety

UNICEF is monitoring detention centers and providing child protection services. Additionally, the U.N.’s Population Fund (UNFPA) is providing safe spaces and psycho-social support to help prevent gender-based violence and provide treatment for victims.

In unison, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working with the U.N. to find places for displaced people. In addition, the IOM and the U.N. are helping some families set up private accommodations or relocate to family members.

The safety and well being of refugees in Tripoli are progressing, as the conflict rages closer to the Lybian capital. However, as the international humanitarian community recognizes Libya’s need for aid, they are working to prepare a multi-faceted response to help those in need.

– Peter S. Mayer
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Libya
Between Egypt and Algeria in the northeastern corner of Africa lies Libya, a large desert nation consisting of roughly 6.5 million people. Since 2011, a violent and chaotic civil war has plagued this North African nation and many aspects of Libya’s society are in shambles.

A former colony of Italy, Libya gained independence in the years following the Second World War. In 1969, rebel leader Muammar Gaddafi assumed power, using oil exports to fund an extremely repressive and prosperous regime. Decades later, as Arab Spring protests swept through North Africa, Gaddafi’s grip on power fell and the country descended into civil war. Because Libya’s quality of life is often stunted by the rampant chaos within the country, the following 10 facts about life expectancy in Libya unpack the economic, societal and cultural issues brought on by the conflict.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Libya

  1. Libya’s total life expectancy is at 71.9 years, 75 for women and 69 for men. The WHO ranks Libya 104th in overall life expectancy, although the chaos within the country often prevents humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations from collecting accurate data.
  2. Despite decades of human rights violations, Gaddafi’s regime upheld one of the more comprehensive and effective health care systems in the Arab World. Funded by oil exports, the government offered free, quality health care to all citizens. Although the conflict has destroyed much of Libya’s infrastructure, remnants of Gaddafi’s health care system are still present today.
  3. The biggest hindrance to improving Libya’s life expectancy is the civil war. The WHO estimates that 1.2 million people are suffering from food insecurity as a result of the conflict and more than 650,000 have unreliable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Roughly 30,000 people have suffered from conflict-related injuries and a sharp rise in gendered violence has severely affected communities across the country. For the elderly, sick and young people of Libya, the long list of hardships brought on by the conflict has complicated an already difficult life.
  4. The conflict has devastated much of Libya’s once flourishing health care system, most notably in the urban centers of Tripoli, Sirte and the rural south. In one year, the U.N. reported 36 attacks on medical facilities and personnel, though many suspect the actual number is higher. Seventeen hospitals have been closed, while only four of Libya’s 97 health care facilities are functioning above 80 percent of their normal capacity. The remaining hospitals are overcrowded, struggling to perform basic procedures as medicines and supplies are often depleted and many health care providers have fled the country.
  5. With up to nine factions fighting within the country, Libya’s official U.N.-backed government has little control outside of Tripoli and Sirte. Therefore, public health and awareness campaigns have been largely absent as the WHO reports that 75 percent of Libya’s public health facilities have shut down. Prior to the start of the conflict, HIV/AIDS rates in Libya were relatively low. However, the lack of public health efforts, compiled with increases of rape and gendered violence have resulted in a higher prevalence of the virus.
  6. Nearly 64 percent of Libyans are either overweight or obese. The study also found that the diet of most Libyans that was already lacking in fruits and vegetables has been heavily influenced by Western food practices. In the past decade, the burger has become a staple in Benghazi cuisine.
  7. Libya is Africa’s largest importer of rolled tobacco and each year roughly 3,500 Libyans die from tobacco-related causes. Though the war has crippled Libya’s tobacco industry, cigarette consumption rates are expected to rise by 25 percent in the coming decade. This could have a significant impact on Libya’s life expectancy as there is a clear correlation between high smoking rates and decreased national life expectancy.
  8. Because Libya’s state-run health care is largely ineffective, organizations like the WHO provide essential medical services. Partnering with a number of Libyan hospitals, the WHO has provided $1.4 million worth of drugs and medical supplies, reviewed 10 Libyan hospitals and upgraded the country’s disease surveillance system. As recently as January 15th, the WHO offered a workshop on noncommunicable diseases, attended by 30 nurses.
  9. Libya and Egypt recently began a cross border partnership monitoring diseases and issuing vaccinations. Facilitated by the WHO, the partnership has made important treatments, including the poliovirus vaccine, available to Libyans and has helped curb outbreaks in the rural Western regions. Since the initiative, no cases of polio, neonatal tetanus, or yellow fever have been reported.
  10. Despite the long list of issues, Libya’s life expectancy is relatively high considering the violence and chaos within its borders. When compared to Yemen (65.3), Afghanistan (62.7), Iraq (69.8), Syria (63.8) and Somalia (55.4), areas currently experiencing some of the most intense conflicts in the world, Libya’s life expectancy is the highest at 71.9.

Most of these 10 facts about life expectancy in Libya revolve around the current civil war that is the main roadblocks in improving the country’s life expectancy. The current government is unable to provide consistent health care, food, water, electricity and other basic rights to Libyans, threatening the lives of the country’s most vulnerable.

After almost eight years of conflict, tensions may be cooling as rival factions met recently in Benghazi to discuss a possible ceasefire. If these recent peace talks prove to be successful, the resource-rich country could become a fully functioning state once again. Yet, Libya still has a long uphill climb, and nongovernmental organizations and foreign aid will still be an integral part of the country’s development.

– Kyle Dunphey

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Libya
Libya, located on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, has been marked by turmoil since the Arab Spring that occurred in 2011.

Formerly a dictatorship, the country has undergone many changes in recent years.

The top 10 facts about living conditions in Libya presented in the article below highlight what life is like in the country today.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Libya

  1. Libya is in a state of political unrest. Since the fall of former leader Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan government has splintered into multiple factions, including two parliaments, two central banks, three potential prime ministers and multiple armed militia groups.
  2. Recent plans to hold general elections in early December have been canceled. Due to stalled talks between factions, the elections did not take place, but a recent summit in Palermo saw both factions recognized by U.N.- Government of National Accord and General Khalifa Hafter, who holds sway over much of Eastern Libya, open to holding elections in early 2019.
  3. A recent ceasefire in Tripoli is still active. The ceasefire, brokered by the U.N. in September continues to hold, with armed groups within the capital withdrawing from key locations. Libyan officials hope to replicate the success achieved in the capital elsewhere in the country.
  4. Libya relies heavily on its oil reserves. The country has the largest oil reserves in Africa and the ninth largest in the world, estimated at 48,363 billion barrels. Oil and natural gas are out of most importance for the country economically, accounting for about 60 percent of GDP and 82 percent of export earnings. Sadly, due to the current climate in the country’s crude oil production has fallen, from over 1,500 barrels per day before the 2011 war to 1,000 barrels per day in 2018.
  5. The current political situation and a drop in oil production have led to a high unemployment rate, but the situation is improving. In recent years, unemployment has been slowly but steadily decreasing, from 19 percent in 2012 to 17.7 percent in 2017.
  6. One of the biggest challenges facing the Libyan population is access to health care. As a result of the recent conflict, only four of the country’s hospitals are functioning at high capacity, and over 20 percent of the country’s primary health care facilities are closed.
  7. Improvements in health care are underway. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been able to distribute the first batch of essential medicines to multiple primary health care centers. The medicine will benefit an estimated 19,000 people for three months, and a second and third batch of deliveries are in the works.
  8. The life expectancy in the country is high. Since the middle of the 20th century, life expectancy has improved dramatically. In 1950, the average lifespan was just 52.9 years. Since then, the average lifespan has increased to 76.7 years in 2018.
  9. Unrest in the country has led to intermittent access to water. The country’s largest city, Tripoli, saw its supply of water cut off by armed groups twice- at the end of 2017 and in September 2018, with one such cut lasting nearly a week, forcing residents to rely on potentially unsafe water.
  10. Programs are in place to improve living conditions in Libya. The Government of National Accord, with the U.N. support, launched the Stabilization Facility for Libya. Through the program supplies such as ambulances, garbage trucks, solar panels and computers are being provided to schools and government offices. The program is also helping repair damaged infrastructure and provide education to millions across the nation.

Although there is still uncertainty for the country’s future, these top 10 facts about living conditions in Libya show that there is a reason to believe things are getting better.

Projects like the Stabilization Facility for Libya, the decreasing unemployment rate and the potential for new general elections all show that things are getting better for Libyan citizens.

– Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Libya
While Libya may be primarily known for its involvement in the Arab Spring and the subsequent civil war, the country has since undergone a period of drastic socio-economic change. This period has left a large portion of Libya impoverished. These are current facts about poverty in Libya.

Facts About Poverty in Libya

  1. Oil is the primary source of wealth for Libya, accounting for 86 percent of the country’s revenue. This is three times higher than Libya’s 2017 earnings from oil. This increase in revenue has cut the national budget deficit in half, which may be an encouraging sign for poverty rates. 
  2. The rise in oil revenue, however, raises an interesting and unique issue in Libya. The 2018 oil figures are based on statistics from the Central Bank of Libya, which formally controls the country’s oil revenue. However, the Central Bank is based in Tripoli and controlled by the General National Congress (GNC). This government body was the formally-recognized government prior to the Arab Spring uprising, but has not been recognized by any international bodies since. Instead, the rival Council of Deputies is recognized as the established government, though it does not control the Tripoli-based Central Bank.
  3. The assassination of President Muammar Ghaddafi was a formative moment for the outbreak of poverty in Libya. Before his assassination, the poverty rate was so low that fewer people lived in poverty in Libya than in the Netherlands. Today, nearly a third of Libya lives below the poverty line.
  4. According to Global Research, Libya also once had the highest life expectancy rate and GDP-per-capita across Africa. Today, however, the country is what many consider to be a failed state, and GDP per capita is down nearly 10,000 USD.
  5. According to MSNBC, Libya is the largest gatekeeper of migrants attempting to travel to Europe through Africa. Without a functioning government to monitor the country’s Mediterranean coast, smugglers have consistently sent more than 100,000 migrants to Italy alone in the years following the government’s collapse. With even more migrants living in Libya until they can raise the money to travel to Europe, the country’s resources are being drained, further exacerbating poverty in Libya.
  6. Libya is not, however, a completely failed state. The Government of National Accord (GNA), which houses the House of Representatives, has been recognized by many international bodies. The GNA has even gone to great lengths to bring rival political factions together. While unsuccessful so far, the GNA has brought the clear majority of Libya under unified control, strengthening the fight against poverty. 
  7. While the U.N. successfully brokered the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement, progress in reaching peace between political bodies has stalled. Initially, the agreement sought to establish a temporary government to house both rival parliaments in order to bring them into dialogue. However, further talks between rival factions have fallen apart. This has left many to speculate the need for a new agreement to be reached as the current Libyan Political Agreement has clearly become null and void.
  8. In southern Libya, ethnic groups have been in armed conflict with each other or the national government ever since the country’s civil war. This has caused many in the region to fall into crippling poverty. Tribes often shut down oil facilities as a means to negotiate, but this leaves many in the region who are dependent on those jobs in dire circumstances.
  9. Ethnic groups and rival political factions are not the only groups contributing to poverty in Libya. ISIS formally established itself in 2014 and has since carried out countless attacks ever since, including a car bombing in recent elections.
  10. As a result of these continued issues, more than 180,000 Libyan citizens remain internally displaced. Due to this displacement, most do not have jobs and remain extremely impoverished. Many citizens left their homes during the civil war and are now attempting to return, but do not have the financial resources to do so.

These facts about poverty in Libya are complex and rapidly changing. While there is still considerable uncertainty for poverty in Libya, and for the country itself, Libya has already taken important steps forward. These steps will hopefully lift the country out of poverty and restore its economic power in the region.

– Sam Kennedy
Photo: Google

Girls' Education in LibyaLibyan women are progressing in society because of a stronger commitment to tearing down barriers to gender equality. New policies such as the Libyan General National Congress’ funding of a study abroad program for the country’s top young scholars have opened doors for improving girls’ education in Libya.

The Funding Initiative

The program has sent educators and students alike to receive training at elite international schools to spur development upon return. The government pays for the student’s expenses and awards them a monthly stipend of 1,600 euros a month. Initially, the fund gave scholarships to students who fought in militias during the civil war but was later expanded to allow women and handicapped students to receive scholarships as well.

This legislation built on an already strong commitment to education made by previous Libyan governments. Former president Muammar Gaddafi made it mandatory and free for all students to attain a primary education. Mandating a public school education transformed Libya from a largely illiterate country before its independence to having 80 percent of its population receiving a primary education.

Education Policies in Libya

Coeducational schools were built across east Libya to accommodate the influx of students. West Libya still has male and female students attend separate schools, but the curriculum is regulated by the government as an incentive for students to choose fields that benefit the nation’s current need. A standardized curriculum helps level the playing field for all students.

The results of these policies have been largely successful for girls’ education in Libya, but the country still has a long road to true equality in education. The Libya Status of Women survey found that 52 percent of Libyan women reached secondary education or higher, compared to 53 percent of Libyan men. Both men and women are achieving similar levels of higher education which will help combat gender economic inequality. Additionally, 77 percent of female students under the age of 25 reported having plans to complete  secondary education or higher compared to 67 percent of men.

More Work to be Done

Women are striving for positions in extremely skilled and specialized positions which increases their economic desirability. These numbers are especially impressive given Libya’s recent civil war that devastated the region. Following the revolution against the Gaddafi regime, 15 schools were completely destroyed resulting in tens of thousands of students not finishing their school years. The education system has demonstrated great resilience in this chaos which has greatly benefited girls’ education in Libya.

Despite these promising statistics, Libya still has to address several areas of gender inequality in its education systems to promote girls’ education across the country. The same Libya Status of Women survey also discovered that 14 percent of Libyan girls failed to finish their first six years of basic education, compared to only three percent of boys. Unfortunately, cultural stereotypes of females still put them at a systemic disadvantage. This is especially the case in rural Libya. The schools are coeducational, but boys are required to sit at the front of the class and girls in the back. West Libya faces a similar problem. The boys’ schools are given priority in government resources because it is believed they will become more skilled workers.

Opening the study abroad program to women demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to gender equality in education which will hopefully combat the disparity observed in the primary education completion rate. These efforts need to extend to rural communities in Libya to maximize effectiveness.

The future looks very optimistic for Libyan women as activists continue to pressure the government to install change. Since 1955, notable women’s rights movements have helped level the playing field for women in education and continue to be an effective driver of change. Libyan women are continually becoming more educated and some of the most skilled workers in society.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access In LibyaThe monetary crisis currently entangling Libyan families has reached unprecedented levels as of late. Credit access in Libya has become a major issue, almost comparable to the ongoing civil war that began in 2014. The only difference is that the latter has somewhat declined whereas the former has become a more rampant issue than ever before.

Starting in 2014, chronic shortages of dinar banknotes and weak valuation of Libyan currency have caused serious problems for Libyans, who are forced to spend their days lining up in front of banks in order to cash their paychecks or simply withdraw some money, only to find out that it cannot be done.

Political Instability a Roadblock to Credit Access in Libya

One of the main factors that has contributed to the lack of credit access in Libya is the precarious political scenario that has effectively held the country hostage. Political stability is all but necessary to kickstart any economy, and Libya has been struggling to achieve this. Ever since the Libyan Political Agreement was reached in Skhirat in December 2015, Libyans have been living under a divided and problematic system.

The eastern part of the country, controlled by the House of Representatives, is based in Tobruk and supported by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army, but this conglomerate of political and military forces does not support nor recognize the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which was established by the agreement and has international support.

In economic terms, this unstable political situation resulted in nominal GDP in 2016 falling by more than half compared to 2010, to $33.2 billion from $73.6 billion, and per capita income dropping to $5,000 in 2016 from more than $11,000 in 2010. Furthermore, those who took over the country after Qaddafi’s death kept the regime’s welfare system in place, which has been spending at unsustainable levels. Much of the clientelism, corruption and misappropriation that characterized the old regime has been allowed to continue.

Political instability also has led to a forceful block of hydrocarbon infrastructure by armed militias in the summer of 2013.  Such action caused oil production to drop precipitously, from 1.45 million barrels per day in May 2013 to only 220,000 barrels per day in November 2013.

Immediate Efforts to Address the Credit Access Crisis

The most important step in alleviating the currently disastrous status of credit access in Libya is working towards political stability. However, more short-term efforts to remedy the situation are also underway.

In October 2017, public authorities, businesses and international donors gathered in Tripoli to discuss ways to improve access to finance for entrepreneurs in Libya. Many political authorities were present at the meeting, such as Ahmed Maitieg, Libya’s deputy Prime Minister, and Johannes Han, European Union Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. This meeting established a new program funded by Libyan banks to provide €74 million of standard and subsidized loans to small and medium-sized businesses in 2018.

Such strategies can help small businesses survive and grow in the midst of the larger work towards political stability in Libya. Both short and long-term efforts are needed to create lasting stability and resolve the current credit access crisis.

– Luca Di Fabio
Photo: Flickr