Protests over living conditions and the continued disruption of the electricity supply were reported in several areas of Benghazi on Thursday, September 10, amid rising tensions over the issues. Dozens of demonstrators are reported to have burned tires and blocked roads in the downtown Sidi Hussein area of the city, as well as Jamal Abdel Nasser Street, although it is unclear whether the gatherings were later dispersed by House of Representatives (HoR) -aligned security forces.
Further demonstrations over service delivery issues and living conditions are likely in Benghazi and other cities across Libya in the medium term.
Thursday's protests were allegedly sparked by the diversion of fuel intended for the city's power stations by local officials, prompting claims of corruption from some activists. Fuel shortages are reported to have been a major factor behind widespread power outages which occurred with increasing frequency in the city in recent weeks, exacerbating wider problems with Benghazi's fragile infrastructure.
Similar protests have been held in multiple towns and cities across Libya, including Tripoli, since June amid service delivery failures and deteriorating living conditions in both eastern and western urban centers.
Damage from years of conflict, lagging maintenance, and a lack of investment since the 2011 civil war have left Libya's electricity infrastructure in a poor state of repair. Inadequate electricity generation capacity in recent years has seen regular load-shedding outages of up to ten hours in some areas, with blackouts increasing in the summer months as high temperatures put additional strain on infrastructure. The electricity supply issues have prompted numerous service delivery protests in Tripoli and other areas in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the dismissal of the management of GECOL. Although these demonstrations have remained largely peaceful, communities have occasionally attempted to seize or disrupt GECOL facilities in order to restore the supply.
Those in Benghazi are advised to monitor developments, anticipate localized disruptions, and heed any directives issued by local authorities. All demonstrations and political gatherings in Libya should be avoided due to the risk of incidental violence and aggressive crowd-dispersal operations by security forces.
The security environment in Libya remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas (with appropriate security protocols in place), other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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