Libyans in Sirte Living ‘Nothing Short of a Nightmare’

General view of buildings ravaged by fighting in Sirte, Libya (File)

While Daesh activities in Iraq and Syria are relatively well-reported, the “catastrophic situation” in Libya does not receive the same attention, Ahmed Benchemsi of Human Rights Watch told Radio Sputnik.

Life under the Daesh terrorism group is a “nightmare” for Libyans, from which many have already fled, Ahmed Benchemsi, Advocacy and Communications Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch.

Libya’s coastal town of Sirte has been under the control of the Daesh terrorist group for more than a year. Two-thirds of the city’s 80,000 inhabitants have fled the city, and Daesh terrorists then take advantage of their absence by seizing and looting the property left behind.

“For those who stay behind, the situation is nothing short of a nightmare,” Benchemsi said.

“We interviewed 45 people who described scenes of horror, including beheadings, corpses in orange jumpsuits hanging from scaffolding, what were described as crucifixions, ISIS (Daesh) patrols in schools quizzing kids about Sharia law, snatching men out of their bed in the middle of the night, flogging and punishing people for merely smoking or wearing the wrong clothes, so it is a catastrophic situation.”

As well as the social stress of living under Daesh, the inhabitants of Sirte also face the scarcity of basic necessities such as food, medicine, fuel and cash, and the hardships they face are not necessarily reported by the media.

“There is way less information going out of Libya than there is going out of other strongholds of ISIS (Daesh) in Iraq and Syria, and that is probably because Libya is in such a state of chaos that journalists and human rights organizations can hardly set foot there.”

“We sent our researchers to Misrata, which is 240 km away from Sirte, we have been able to interview a lot of people, and this enabled us to get information out.”

“We only hope this information will shed the spotlight on the dramatic and catastrophic situation going on now in Sirte and there will be more international interest and concern over the situation in Libya.”


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