Feature: Libyans struggling in poverty, chaos 10 years after NATO intervention

Source: Xinhua| 2021-05-07 02:10:21|Editor: huaxia

A displaced girl drinks water from a well in a building complex under construction, where hundreds of displaced families live, in Tripoli, Libya, March 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien)

"We did not hear the sounds of bullets in our daily life 10 years ago. Today, we hear the sounds of warplanes, gun firing and various weapons," said Ali, a Libyan teacher who is also struggling to make ends meet.

TRIPOLI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Ali Al-Khalfouni, a 56-year-old Libyan elementary school teacher, used to make about 700 U.S. dollars per month 10 years ago, an income high enough to cover the expenses of his entire family.

Nowadays, he makes less than 200 U.S. dollars per month. In order to secure the basic needs of the family, he uses his spare time teaching private lessons to make more money.

"Actually, so many negative things happened over the past 10 years," Al-Khalfouni said. "A large number of the Libyan people became unemployed and hungry."

Besides economic degradation, the security situation has also been worsening. According to Al-Khalfouni, the quality of life today is "tens of times worse" than 10 years ago.

"At least, most of the Libyans lived in an acceptable life and in an good security situation to the point that we did not hear the sounds of bullets in our daily life 10 years ago. Today, we hear the sounds of warplanes, gun firing and various weapons," he explained.

A UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) fighter wearing face mask fires at East-based Libyan National Army (LNA) forces during clashes at Ain-Zara frontline in Tripoli, Libya, March 25, 2020. (Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien)

In February 2011, many Libyans demonstrated against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The demonstrations then turned into an armed conflict between Gaddafi's forces and West-backed rebels.

In March 2011, NATO forces intervened in Libya's civil war with promises to liberate the country. The operation helped overthrow Gaddafi but left the country deeply unstable.

During the past 10 years, the Libyans have been plagued by political and economic collapse, inter-militia and intertribal warfare, as well as humanitarian crisis. In 2010, Libya's GDP per capita exceeded 12,000 U.S. dollars. However, in 2011 it dropped to about 5,500 U.S. dollars.

Khairiah Bouazoum, 67, is a retired employee at the Ministry of Economy. Now, she struggles to receive her pension due to the financial crisis and the country's delay in paying the salaries of retirees or current employees.

"We have lost the sense of life in Libya. Our suffering has become summarized in the power blackouts and the lack of money in the banks, in addition to the high prices of goods that have made the middle and poor classes struggle," Bouazoum told Xinhua.

"We do not want anything except security and economic stability, because these are conditions for the country to recover from its crisis," she said.

Smoke is seen after a strong explosion in Libya's capital Tripoli as NATO airstrikes hit the area on June 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)

The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) recently selected a new executive authority for the North African country, which was welcomed by all the Libyan parties. The new authority's main task is to prepare Libya for the general elections on Dec. 24, as agreed by the LPDF.

However, the situation in Libya cannot be described as stable yet, and the future of the North African nation still faces a high degree of uncertainty. Foreign forces have not yet completely withdrawn.

Asma Haggaj, a Libyan journalist, says the social instability has changed her life and restricted her career development during the past decade.

"I want to tell the United States: stop interfering in the lives of the Arab peoples!" she said.