Earlier this month, an ISIS-affiliate group released a video in Libya depicting the murder of 21 Coptic Christians.
The video provoked a barrage of air strikes from the Egyptian airforce and widespread public outcry in the international community. All of this occured just miles away from the hospital where we worked to provide lifesaving heart surgery for 16 Libyan children and hours of training for Libyan doctors.
With this month marking the third anniversary of the revolution that overthrew Colonel Mohammar Qaddafi, Libya is still deeply divided, struggling to create a nationwide government. Militias and extremists groups control various parts of the country, and lawlessness is a major problem for the internationally-recognized government now based in the west of the country.
In a recent meeting with Dr. Reida el-Oakley, the Libyan Minister of Health, he encouraged us to continue serving the poorest, most at-risk Libyans as that is the best way to ensure they remain hopeful.
He also assured us that the sanctions-like reprisals of the international community is having a very negative effect, keeping basic essentials from reaching everyday Libyans. Rather than hurting the intended targets—extremists, sectarian militias, etc.—it slowly leaves the general population more and more desperate, and after years of living in Iraq, we’ve seen that a desperate population with extremists on its doorstep is the very last thing you want.
Some believe, by withholding essential supplies and services, we are putting Libya on a similar path as Iraq, but we don’t have to. Thank you for going where others won’t, refusing to forget Libyan families in need!