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Libya: More than 100 families at risk of starvation in Benghazi

A Libyan man looks at destroyed building in March 2016 in Laithi district, a central area that was reseized by forces loyal to Libya's governmentImage copyright
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Families have been trapped in a small area of Benghazi for months as battles continue to rage around them. Pictured: A man looks over the destroyed city

More than 100 families trapped in a Libyan neighbourhood are at risk of starving to death, Amnesty International has warned.

Children have been reduced to “skin and bones” as no food or water reaches the district of Ganfouda, in Benghazi.

All entry roads are blocked by fighting or by the Libyan National Army militia, which has cut off supplies.

The area has been the focus of fighting between Islamist militias and troops loyal to Libya’s eastern government.

The two-year conflict in Benghazi is focused on Islamist fighters largely holed up in the besieged area.

But there are still 130 families and hundreds of foreigners living in Ganfouda, unable to escape despite being desperate to leave, according to Amnesty International.

A report by the human rights group reveals many now fear dying of hunger after several months living under a military blockade.

‘Skin and bones’

Mohamed, who is sheltering eight families, including 23 children, in his home, told Amnesty they were desperate for even the most basic of supplies.

The electricity has been cut off for two years already, medicine is running out and people are reduced to eating rotten food to survive, he said.

“Children look like skin and bones because of the lack of food and poor nutrition … If they could just drop us some food for the children or get them out of here, even if that meant leaving the rest of us, that would be fine.

“There are no fighters amongst us: we’re just normal civilians.”

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Benghazi was the city where the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi began

Another resident revealed he was trying to fool his two son – aged three and two – into believing water was milk.

“We just want a safe way to leave,” he said.

Adults have been unable to leave Ganfouda since the end of August, when a tribal leader said no-one over the age of 14 was allowed out the area.

Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising, has been a battleground between government forces and Islamists since October 2014.

Since February, forces led by Gen Khalifa Haftar have been gaining ground and closing in on the Islamist militants – forcing them into one small area, Ganfouda.

Innocent residents say they are now too scared to leave their homes because they might be mistaken for one of the Islamists.

Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Magdalena Mughrabi called on all sides to allow aid in, and people out.

“Time is running out for civilians in Ganfouda, who are being left to die trapped by the fighting,” she said.

Libya has become increasingly divided since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with competing governments and rival militias seeking to gain territory and influence.

The chaos had left Libya vulnerable to an influx of Islamic State (IS) group fighters, many from Syria.

The US has voiced strong backing for the unity government, or Government of National Accord, which began operating from the capital, Tripoli, in April.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37516737

jaapschaap

September 30th, 2016

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