Increase in Poverty in Libya
Following the 2009 overthrow of the authoritarian Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi, the country underwent serious social upheaval. Many citizens faced an increase in poverty in Libya. Libya is home to a wealth of natural resources. Markers such as life expectancy and literacy rates are substantially higher than other countries in the region. Nevertheless, ongoing political conflict combined with various refugee crises has dramatically elevated the number of people living below the poverty line. In fact, roughly one-third of the population lives in poverty, which is about 2.2 million people.

Violence and Politics

Numerous domestic parties and foreign countries have a stake in the political landscape. As a result, violence and fractured political relationships characterize Post-Qaddafi governance in Libya. Current Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leads the Government of National Accord (GNA). It has garnered substantial support from the international community. However, the presence of militias and former Qaddafi supporters in the region have created lasting violence and contributed greatly to the impoverishment of its citizens. Opposition leader Khalifa Haftar has been leading a violent campaign against the GNA for the past several years. He envisions himself “a bulwark against extremists,” but his ties to the Islamic State worry his critics.

The Economic Aspect

Additionally, there are various international actors with an economic interest in the region. Countries like Italy, Russia and Turkey all have investments in Libya’s economic prosperity, and these investments tie closely to its remarkable oil and natural gas reserves. Historically, these countries have contributed to poverty in Libya by exploiting these natural resources. Ultimately, the conflict prolonged and intensified. It led to an increase in poverty in Libya by foreign leaders with personal interests in the outcome of the war. The fighting has destroyed important infrastructures such as roads and functioning sewage systems. This leaves many Libyans without access to clean water or food.

Improvements to Fight Libya’s Poverty

The political instability and constant violence increased poverty in Libya over the last decade. Moreover, the 90% of refugees migrating to Europe from Libya has compounded it. About 217,002 Libyans are currently displaced within the country, according to the UNHCR. This is in addition to another 43,113 asylum seekers who are passing through in search of a country that will take them in. Also, the number of “people of concern,” or those in dire need of aid, has increased by 50% since 2018. The political and social infrastructure to handle such numbers of displaced people is not available. However, groups like the IRC and UNHCR are working to improve the lives of Libyan citizens and asylum seekers. These organizations, among others, provide services such as community development centers and telephone hotlines in order to help identify, register and assist those who need it.

Furthermore, they work to provide humanitarian assistance to refugee camps and end the practice of detention centers in the region. Although terrorist and militia attacks on foreign aid centers have complicated efforts, there is noticeable improvement due to programs like these.

The Outlook

Ultimately, political violence and the competing desires of colonial powers has resulted in the increase of poverty in Libya in recent years. Religious conflict and foreign involvement have made the road to progress difficult. Aid will only reach 39% of those identified to be in need of critical assistance in 2020, according to the U.N. However, the outlook is not entirely bleak: the international aid community is working to provide relief to those in need. Also, the natural resources Libya possesses put the country in a unique position to recover and prosper. The region draws more international attention and humanitarian organizations continue to direct resources to Libyans in need. Therefore, there is reason to be hopeful that the country will soon be out of poverty.

– Leo Posel
Photo: Flickr

The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, has given a donation of $160 million to the International Rescue Committee, or IRC, in order to fund and launch the Pakistan Reading Project. The Pakistan Reading Project will be a large program focused on education and childhood literacy rates, since Pakistan has some of the highest child illiteracy rates in the entire world. The International Rescue Committee will be working with its partner organizations in order to implement their program in 38,000 schools across the country, and to increase the skills of nearly 100,000 teachers in the art of reading instruction.

The International Rescue Committee is an organization that helps with humanitarian crises around the globe, by giving aid to those struggling to survive, and to help them rebuild their lives despite tragedy and disaster. It was originally founded in 1933 after it was suggested by Albert Einstein. The primary focus of the International Rescue Committee is to help refugees that are fleeing from war, or any other disaster that occurred in their homes. As of today, the International Rescue committee helps more than 40 countries, including the United States and Pakistan. Whenever the organization is needed for a disaster, they have promised to arrive on-scene within 3 days with supplies and knowledge that can help the people in the middle of a chaotic situation. They have pledged to remain in the disaster zones for as long as necessary, in order to rebuild communities and lives. The most important factor, however, is to create lasting solutions for individuals and the larger area.

Work in Pakistan by the International Rescue Committee has occurred since 1980. Right now, the International Rescue Committee is focusing on helping with horrible floods in Pakistan that are the worst in the country’s history. They help through rebuilding important things like homes and schools, as well as roads and infrastructure. Plus, they have a commitment to give the affected people health care and sanitation facilities. Of course, the most recent news about the International Rescue Committee in Pakistan is the newly-implemented Pakistan Reading Project, which is more than just emergency relief; it is a program that can create lasting change across the entire country through education.

According to the senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee’s programs, John Keys, the Pakistan Reading Project signifies a commitment to reach 3.2 million children with reading programs, and to make sure at least 2.5 million of the children will read at grade-level. Keys also mentioned that the children will carry the reading skills learned in the programs into their future education as well as adulthood. He ends his statement with, “[These children] are the future of Pakistan.” Certainly, children are the future, and education is one of the best ways to ensure a positive future.

Unfortunately, as of today, there are 47 million illiterate adults living in Pakistan. However, this statistic is not being seen by the International Rescue Project as a tragedy, but as a challenge. They do not wish to prevent the illiteracy rates from continuing to increase; rather, they wish to reduce the high rates of illiteracy. The International Rescue Project will ensure their success by working with provincial and local governments of Pakistan in order to create high quality literacy instruction in primary schools in Pakistan. There will be a particular focus on rural communities.

The Pakistan Reading Project will be located across Pakistan, including the cities of Islamabad, Peshawar, Punjab, Sindh, and more. The Pakistan Reading Project with gain its success throughout a combination of educating teachers in skills of instruction and professionalism, systems reforms, and engagement in civil society. Overall, the Pakistan Reading Project will surely be a success, and will help to combat the rising illiteracy levels within Pakistan.

Corina Balsamo

Sources: The Tribune, UN Jobs, International Rescue Committee