Libyans forge ahead in the face of uncertainty

Despite the war, Tripoli’s residents are filling the salons and cafes across the capital city making the best of a grim situation.
Libyan children play near the port of Tripoli on April 22, 2019. – Despite the war on Tripoli’s doorstep, residents are filling the salons and cafes in some quarters of the Libyan capital as they carry on with life as best they can. Tension has been high in Tripoli since military chief Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on April 4, aimed at seizing the capital from the UN-backed unity government based there. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

Tension has been high in Tripoli since Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army, launched an offensive on the 4th of April, aimed at seizing the capital from the UN-backed unity government.

Despite the war, Tripoli’s residents are filling the salons and cafes across the capital city making the best of a grim situation.

Samira, a local beautician who runs her own hair and beauty salon in Ben Achour, a central neighbourhood in Tripoli, says that “Life has to go on. It will end when it ends…” .

Samira is originally from Tunisia and has lived in Libya for years.

“At least, three or four brides come in each week to have their hair done and get ready for their big day,” she says, as she prepares a palette of eyeshadows and brushes for a young bride’s make -up appointment.

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“That is as well as dozens of women who come in for a haircut, to get a makeover, or skincare before a big event,” she adds.

The battle for control of the Libyan capital has so far left more than 260 dead and wounded more than 1,228 others, according to data from the World Health Organization. More than 32,000 people have also been displaced.

The latest flare-up in Libya, which has been mired in chaos since dictator, Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, threatens to disrupt oil flows, promote migration and open room for a  power vacuum exploitation.

Clashes have centered on the southern outskirts of the city, just 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the center.

On Saturday, GNA forces launched a counter-attack intensifying fighting. Some witnesses shared reports of sustained shellfire and air strikes

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Tripoli residents fear that the battle could escalate into a wider conflict across, a country already laden by years of instability and economic hardship since 2011.

In the meantime, schools and businesses in Tripoli remain open when safe to do so, while residents of Tripoli try to indulge in their favorite leisure activities; the sound of cars honking seem louder than the rockets and gunfire.

Mariam Abdallah, a school teacher in Tripoli says, “Libya is not just about television footage showing tanks and militiamen brandishing their guns or destroyed buildings; we are still having weddings, parties, school activities and sports events”.

 On the seafront, outdoor cafes offer a form of leisure in a country that has no cinemas, theatres or concert hall. Residents gather at these packed cafes the end of a work day to unwind and share some laughter.

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“The best places to meet (friends) and spend some good times are cafes and restaurants”, says Issam, a waiter at a café. Most of the clientele are students and young employees attracted by the offer of free Wi-Fi.

The United Nations estimates that more than 30,000 people have been displaced since the Haftar offensive, this number could be higher as many fled to relatives in a safer area and did not register with international organizations.

Many in Libya still live with the uncertainty of the times- fearing that the crisis will not be resolved without bloodshed and violence.


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