Sunday 23 April 2017

Libya rebels running out of food and cash

Ruth Sherlock in Benghazi

Libya's rebel leadership will run out of money and face food shortages in "three or four weeks" unless it receives funds from the West.

Ali Tarhouni, who is expected to become finance minister of the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council, said he hoped to receive up to $3bn (€2.02bn) in the coming days from the US, France and Italy.

The loan would be secured against Libya's overseas wealth generated by its oil revenues, which have been frozen under sanctions.

"I need about $2-3bn and we are hoping to get most or all of this," Mr Tarhouni said in the council's de facto capital, Benghazi. "We can hold out for three to four more weeks, but people are really in need."

Libya has been dependent on oil revenues to fund government services in recent decades, but there were no sales on the horizon for either side. As banks ran dry, citizens were finding it increasingly difficult to find money to buy food.

"I haven't been able to make a deposit, or take out money in over two months," said Salem Hamoudi (38), who was queuing outside one of the few open banks in Benghazi. Stocks of essential foods were low and as the value of the Libyan dinar slumped, the cost of importing even basic foodstuffs rocketed.

Some residents of Nayfouz, a Benghazi slum consisting of tin shacks and dusty wooden shanties, said they had no choice but to beg for food. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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