Disputes in Libya date back to the 7th century when the Arabs conquered Libya and first spread Islam. Since then, it has developed first into a united country, then into a divided one. Now, the Libyan crisis is worsening. Here are eight facts about the Libyan crisis:
- Conflict in Libya has a long history. The beginning of the conflict in Libya dates back to the 7th century when Islam spread widely and became the national religion. In 2011, Arab Spring protests led to the first civil war in Libya.
- The conflict that led to the 2011 civil war began in 1969. Muammar Gaddafi led a group of military officers in a protest against King Idris in 1969, which landed Gaddafi in power of the new Libyan African Republic. As all power and wealth within Libya were under Gaddafi’s control, many pro-monarchy civilians lashed out, and anti-Gaddafi groups formed.
- Protests in neighboring countries spurred the war on. Word spread of revolts in neighboring countries, which inspired protests in Benghazi and other cities in Libya. War broke out in early 2011 as rebels opposed the Gaddafi government, but security forces defeated them. With the National Transitional Council, the main opposition group, now recognized as the new Libyan government, the first civil war ended in October 2011. The second civil war began in 2014, as the conflict began between various rebel groups seeking control of Libyan territory.
- During the Libyan civil war of 2011, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed. Death sources are from rebel sides, government forces and civilians. To date, since the 2014 crisis broke out, there have been 5,871 civilian deaths in Libya.
- Countries across the world have aided Libya’s citizens in a number of ways. Over the course of the Libyan crisis, the European Union has given almost $160 million in aid. Aid came in different forms: civilian resources, transportation, sanitation, healthcare resources, food supplies. Many other countries around the world have also donated generously, but those within the EU take the lead as a combined force.
- The Libyan crisis has produced thousands of refugees who flee to neighboring countries, for example, Egypt, seeking asylum. In May 2011, already around 746,000 people had fled Libya since the beginning of the War. Most Libyans fled to Italy, where 36,222 refugees currently reside. Surrounding European countries also continue to allow migrants to seek refuge.
- Gaddafi’s capture was a major turning point. The rebels captured and killed Colonel Gaddafi on Oct. 20, 2011. This is a key event within the Libyan crisis because the beginning of the conflict started with pro-Gaddafi forces and anti-Gaddafi rebels.
- International organizations tried to help Libya in solving civil issues. In March 2011, the United Nations Security Council issued a no-fly zone over Libya. NATO then authorized air strikes in order to protect civilians. Many countries give help by providing Libya with vital resources for its citizens, such as warmth, food and shelter.
For now, Libya continues its division while the international community continues providing aid. Recently, African leaders have held a mini-summit in Congo to discuss what further action is necessary. They decided that lifting the arms embargo was necessary to begin a more proactive approach to ending the war in Libya. Over 29 countries in the Middle East and Europe are continuing to open their borders to refugees, which is the greatest help that Libyan citizens can receive at present.
– Georgia Boyle