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Tripoli drowns in waste, as Libya’s war drags on

The rubbish crisis adds to the daily ordeal for residents of the capital, where life is already punctuated by shortages of fuel, electricity and water.

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Faraj al-Doukali hastened to unload the dozens of rubbish bags from his van onto a sidewalk dump in Siyahiya, a residential district west of the Libyan capital.

“Each weekend I collect the rubbish from my four brothers at the farm where we live and I look for somewhere to dump it. I have no choice but to leave it here on the footpath,” he said.

Read also : Sudan shuts border with Libya over security concerns

Across Tripoli, tonnes of waste overflows from bins and piles up on roadsides.

The rubbish crisis adds to the daily ordeal for residents of the capital, where life is already punctuated by shortages of fuel, electricity and water.

Fed up with the smell and the sight of rats and stray cats feasting in the garbage, some residents have taken to burning the rubbish. But this only replaces the stench of rotting garbage with columns of nauseating smoke in the streets of the capital.

Tripoli’s trash turmoil isn’t a new phenomenon but it has reached alarming proportions in recent months. Municipal rubbish trucks no longer collect waste because the city’s main landfill is on a frontline.

The dump is at Sidi al-Sayeh, 45 kilometres (28 miles) south of Tripoli, where forces loyal to the capital’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) are battling those of eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive on April 4 to seize the city.

‘Find a solution’

Doukali seems more angered by the rubbish than the fighting.

“Is it up to citizens to collect the garbage now? Why doesn’t the government and the municipality provide skips in every neighbourhood?” he asked.

A furious passerby interjected: “I’m talking to the government of the east (which supports Haftar) and that of the west (the GNA): keep your ministerial portfolios and the money, but find a solution to this rubbish crisis because it’s making us sick.”

Without long-term solutions and as long as fighting continues, “the crisis will worsen”, said Tarek al-Jadidi, director of environmental protection at the National Centre for the Prevention of Diseases in Tripoli.

“In addition to the lack of environmental awareness among citizens, the state is unable to manage the rubbish in the streets, while ongoing conflict prevents the implementation of plans like in other countries,” Jadidi said.

In theory, waste management in Tripoli takes place in stages, with rubbish being taken first to collection points and then onwards to the main landfill. But with the landfill in a combat zone, collection points are overflowing. Rubbish sorting and recycling are out of the question. 

Glass, paper and plastic could be recycled, but specialised facilities “require a stable security situation”, Jadidi said.

Rouqaya al-Hachemi, an environmental researcher, recently conducted a study on the rubbish crisis in Tripoli. 

She found that respiratory illnesses and skin conditions have clearly increased among children, the elderly and pregnant women.

“People are aware of the environmental risks and dangers of garbage fires but they complain about a lack of skips,” she said.

To resolve this chronic crisis, Hachemi recommends “the creation of a ministry of environment to manage the rubbish situation, and laws to punish offenders”.

Waste management may not seem like Libya’s most pressing issue, but ultimately, Hachemi said, “it’s about the health of citizens”.

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Sudanese protesters call for dissolution of Bashir’s National Congress Party

The demonstrators carried banners saying “Dissolve the National Congress Party”

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Sudanese call for dissolution of Bashir's National Congress Party
(File photo)

Thousands of Sudanese rallied in several cities including the capital Khartoum on Monday, urging the country’s new authorities to dissolve the former ruling party of ousted Islamist leader Omar al-Bashir.

Crowds of men and women rallied in Khartoum, its twin city of Omdurman, Madani, Al-Obeid, Port Sudan and in the town of Zalinge in war-torn Darfur, expressing their support for the new authorities who are tasked with the country’s transition to a civilian rule.

Monday’s gatherings also marked the October 21, 1964 uprising that had ousted the then military leader Ibrahim Abboud.

The demonstrators carried banners saying “Dissolve the National Congress Party”, a correspondent reported.

The rallies, organised by the umbrella protest movement Forces of Freedom and Change, was also meant to demand “justice for the martyrs” killed during the months-long uprising that led to Bashir being ousted in April.

Some Islamist groups had also called for similar gatherings on Monday in Khartoum but no major rally was reported, witnesses said.

Bashir and his Islamist National Congress Party ruled Sudan for three decades since 1989 when he came to power in an Islamist-backed coup.

Protests had erupted against his government in December 2018, and quickly turned into a nationwide movement against him that finally led to his removal.

The protest movement says more than 250 people were killed in the uprising. Officials have given a lower death toll.

Bashir is being held in a prison in Khartoum and on trial on charges of corruption. 

Several other officials of his government and senior party members are also in jail.

Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian-military sovereign council that is tasked with overseeing the country’s transition to a civilian rule, the key demand of the protest movement.

A civilian-led cabinet led by reputed economist Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister is charged with the day to day running of the country.

Hamdok is due to deliver an address to the nation later on Monday.

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Sudan agrees to ceasefire after peace talks with rebels

“Peace is a very strategic goal for us. The transformation of Sudan is anchored on peace,” said Hedi Idriss Yahia

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Sudan agrees to ceasefire after peace talks with rebels
(File photo)

Sudan’s government agreed Monday to allow humanitarian relief to war-torn parts of the country and renewed a ceasefire pact with major rebel groups at peace talks in South Sudan.

Officials from all sides said the new administration in Khartoum and the two umbrella groups of rebels had signed a declaration to keep the doors open to dialogue.

“The political declaration will pave the way for political negotiations and is a step towards a just, comprehensive and final peace in Sudan,” said General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a key figure in Sudan’s transitional government.

READ: Sudan announces “permanent ceasefire” as peace talks hit deadlock

Talks have been underway in Juba since last week between the new government in Khartoum and rebels who fought now-ousted President Omar al-Bashir’s forces in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

The new transitional authorities, tasked with leading the way to civilian rule after the ouster of Bashir, have vowed to bring peace to these conflict zones.

The peace talks have been held in the capital of South Sudan after its President, Salva Kiir, volunteered to mediate. Sudan’s neighbour and former foe is struggling to end its own war.

One of the rebel movements involved in the talks, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), said the agreement reached in Juba was a good step.

“Peace is a very strategic goal for us. The transformation of Sudan is anchored on peace,” said Hedi Idriss Yahia, who signed the agreement in Juba on Monday on behalf of the SRF.

READ: South Sudan to hold peace talks between Sudan and rebels

Khartoum agreed to let aid into marginalised, conflict-wracked areas of Sudan long cut off from humanitarian groups during Bashir’s rule. They include Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions.

The talks were almost derailed last week after one rebel group threatened to pull out unless the government withdrew from an area in the Nuba Mountains where it said government attacks were ongoing.

Hours later, Khartoum announced a “permanent ceasefire” in the three conflict zones. 

An unofficial ceasefire had been in place since Bashir was ousted by the army in April, a palace coup that followed nationwide protests against his decades-old rule.

Bashir is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption after being overthrown following months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule.

READ: Sudanese Prime Minister Hamdok arrives in South Sudan on first official trip

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Bobi Wine Exclusive Interview

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