Libyan lives overturned as civilians bear the brunt of the battle for Tripoli

Screengrab FRANCE 24 | More than 1,000 displaced families have sought shelter in the Abou Slim neighbourhood of Tripoli, Libya.

In the second of FRANCE 24’s exclusive reports from Libya, Catherine Norris Trent, Julie Dungelhoeff and Abdallah Malkawi report on the devastating impact of the latest war on civilians in the capital, Tripoli.


The Salah al-Din neighbourhood of Tripoli is in a state of shock. Wide gaping holes in buildings caused by heavy mortar fire expose the wiring and rubble inside structures.

"We're afraid, it's terrifying. Every minute, we fear we're going to be hit by a shell. We're constantly worried, we don't feel safe," said Hanane, a resident driving through the neighbourhood with her terrified children.

Seven months after Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take Tripoli, the war has reached an impasse with drones and Russian arms adding a new scale of devastation.

Despite a UN arms embargo on Libya, both sides of the Tripoli battle have been receiving foreign arms, according to a UN report seen by a number of news organisations.

While Libya turns into a proxy battlefield for competing regional powers, civilians have been paying a heavy price.

Thousands of people have been killed in sporadic fighting since 2014 between factions in the east and west of the country, and the UN estimates that at least 120,000 Libyans have been internally displaced by the conflict.

In the Abu Slim neighbourhood of the capital, Redwane, a former teacher, is living in an abandoned school building with his wife and three children after the family was forced to leave their home on the frontline a few weeks ago.

“There was gunfire and mortar shells right by us. My children asked me to leave, they didn't want to stay there,” explains Redwane. “I want to send a message to my brothers in the east and in the west: I want them to sit down around a table together and find a solution that satisfies both sides. I want to be able to walk safely in the streets.”

Click here for the first of FRANCE 24’s special reports from Libya

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