We’re Headed Back to Libya!

We’re headed back to Libya* next week! We’re keeping our promise to help more young Libyans get the lifesaving heart surgeries they need, and provide more hours of training for dedicated Libyan doctors and nurses.

Before we go, we want to give you an update on life in Libya—it certainly isn’t any easier for Libyans since we were last there in April.

Instead of two competing governments trying to rule the country—based in the west and east—there are now three. A UN-brokered “unity government”, assembled in Tunis and brought into Libya at the end of March, was hoped to be a solution to the country’s turmoil since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

But quick buy-in for the new UN-brokered government hasn’t happened. Instead, there are now three separate governments and militias jockeying to find their places. Sometimes they fight against each other. Sometimes they fight against ISIS. And in the meantime, regular Libyans suffer.

Basic services are not being provided. Depending on where in the country you live, there are varying levels of power and water shortages. Frustrated residents in Tripoli have protested by blocking roads and burning tires—dealing with extreme summer heat as well as 6-12 hour day outages has been too much to bear for some. The long power outages during Ramadan felt particularly cruel, as millions of residents, unable to drink water or eat something cooling during the heat of the day because they were fasting, were also without air conditioning.

Libya is also plagued with a cash liquidity problem. In theory, Libya has more printed cash than the UK, but there is none at hand for residents. Many arrive at banks hours before they open, some even sleeping on the sidewalk overnight, and are met in the morning with bank security who inform them there is no money in the bank. The western and eastern governments each printed new currency to try to solve the problem, but didn’t work in tandem, so there are now multiple of currencies which look very much the same, but carry separate serial number systems.

Add to this fuel shortages, government workers (including hospital staff) going many months without being paid, and countless other problems endemic to a country at war, and you have a country in chaos.

In the midst of the chaos though, Libyans are taking huge risks to restore normalcy to their country.

Militia fighters battle ISIS, and have pushed them back to a few neighbourhoods in the city of Sirte, instead of the larger territory ISIS used to possess.

Residents take risks to open businesses, like restaurants. They risk to hold the rare, small outdoor concert.

And Libyan parents who have children born with heart defects—they risk everything they have to find someone who can fix their child’s heart…

That’s why we’re headed back to Libya next week—we’re going to meet some of those brave Libyan parents who risk so much.

*if you’re new to Preemptive Love Coalition, you might not know that we work in Libya. You can read more here.

Photo credits: Simon BacholleAlan & Flora Botting and Groundhopping Merseburg