Last year, Warshafana city, a large Libyan city with a population of 700,000, was largely destroyed in the Libyan civil war.
Intense fighting lasted nearly a month, causing extensive damage throughout the city. Many families were trapped, sheltering in their homes despite the risks. 50 year old Mr Belgacem and his family were trapped at the very frontline, where the fighting was most intense. Within days, their house was severely damaged. Mr Belgacem said: “It was a shocking moment – I was so afraid. My little child was screaming and there was nothing we could do.”
Once the fighting subsided, Mr Belgacem fled with his family to his brother’s home nearby, sheltering there for a week before evacuating out of the city.
“It was like hell”, he said. “There were explosions everywhere… It was not safe to stay anymore.” As many families decided to leave, Mr Belgacem recalls that only young men stayed behind to protect their houses. “My son was one of them”, he says, “and to this day, we do not know what happened to him.”
Families from that area left to nearby cities, sheltering with relatives or other individuals willing to share their residences with the displaced. Along with his brother, Mr Belgacem’s family ended up living in cramped and “miserable” conditions.
In June 2015, once the conflict subsided, many families decided to move back to Warshafana, to return to their homes and rebuild. However, after merely two months, the front-line shifted and the conflict returned to the city, causing even more destruction than before. “This time, our house was totally destroyed”, Mr Belgacem said. “We left the area with no hope to come back. We lost everything.”
Nowadays Mr Belgacem’s family lives in a flat share with 18 other people. “Before International Medical Corps came, we had nothing”, he says.
International Medical Corps, with support from the European Commission, provided each displaced family with mattresses, towels, pillows, hygiene products, and many other basic necessities. In addition, International Medical Corps supported eight local health facilities with emergency kits, to support the affected population.
Mr Belgacem said that his family could finally be safe and comfortable.
“We are very grateful for the support International Medical Corps and the European Commission provided. It’s getting cold, and without these items, we wouldn’t be able to live here.”