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Update: Libyan refugees desperate to return home after 6 years of displacement

Xinhua,December 23, 2017 Adjust font size:

TRIPOLI, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- The internally displaced people from the Libyan town of Tawergha, some 240 km east of the capital Tripoli, are living a miserable life in the shanty camps in the capital Tripoli.

Many Tawerghans live in an abandoned construction site, which has not changed in years despite the signed agreement with their neighbors in the city of Misurata, which is holding administrative jurisdiction over Tawergha.

The agreement was supposed to allow nearly 40,000 Tawerghans to return home after six years of displacement.

Mohamed Tawerghi, 70 years old, described the camp in Tripoli as "not fit for animals, let alone human beings."

"Most of us here are elders, women and children. We suffer all year around. There is no decent home to shelter us and no regular electricity services. We have no monthly income," Tawerghi told Xinhua.

"We do not want money from anyone. We want to go back to Tawergha where we were born and grew up, to our city where we used to work and grow our land," he added.

Tawerghi's granddaughter Fatima, who just turned seven a few weeks ago, told Xinhua her innocent wishes.

"I want to go to school. My father died two years ago. My mother is a baker. She said when we return to Tawergha, she will enroll me in school, because the school here does not have enough classes," the little girl said.

Playing in the rainwater swamp in front of her mother's shanty house, Fatima told of her dream after graduation from university.

"I want to become a sports teacher because I love sports and to play with children," she said.

In August 2016, representatives of Tawergha and Misurata signed a UN-sponsored draft reconciliation agreement to allow Tawerghan refugees to return home.

The agreement lifts social and tribal covers for all criminals of both sides during the 2011 uprising by holding them accountable before courts.

Misurata accuses the people of Tawergha of actively joining in former leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces, which besieged the city during the uprising and committed multiple crimes during the months of fighting.

The UN-backed government in June approved the reconciliation agreement. However, the agreement has not yet been implemented.

"Tawerghans are being collectively punished. The road back home is still long. All the agreements are useless. Our shanty homes are flooded with water and electricity has been off for two days in this cold weather that caused illness for the elderly and children," Mohamed Abdulhadi, a resident of the camp, told Xinhua.

On Thursday, dozens of Tawerghans protested in front of the government's headquarters in Tripoli, demanding speedy implementation of the reconciliation agreement and proper arrangement for their return to home.

Libya's National Human Rights Commission said the Government of National Accord and international organizations should quickly act to help Tawerghan refugees, especially during the current poor weather conditions.

Libya is experiencing the strongest thunderstorms in years, with government institutions and traffic disrupted in most parts of the country.

On Thursday, the local council of Tawergha called for the suspension of study in the schools of camps due to poor weather and frequent blackouts.

"With bad weather, heavy rainfall and extreme cold, camp residents need quick interference to help them," Ahmed Abdel-Hakim, the Commission's secretary, told Xinhua.

He also called on the government to "assume its legal, humanitarian and national responsibility by speeding up arrangements for the return of the people of Tawergha to their town and to end their suffering inside the camps." Enditem