Clashes reportedly erupted between demonstrators and pro-House of Representatives (HoR) forces in the eastern cities of Benghazi and Marj on the evening of Saturday, September 12, as protests over living conditions, service delivery failures, and other issues continue to escalate in the region. In Benghazi, demonstrators set fire to local government offices during the third consecutive night of unrest in the city, whilst an unknown number of people were reported to have been injured in Marj after militia fighters used live fire to disperse demonstrators gathered outside the local security directorate. Smaller protests anti-government protests were also reported in the city of Bayda.
Further demonstrations over service delivery issues and living conditions are likely in Benghazi and other cities across Libya in the medium term.
Protests in Benghazi in recent days 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 that have occurred with increasing frequency in the city, as well as other eastern urban cities, in recent weeks, exacerbating wider problems with the region'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. Although many of these demonstrations, particularly in the west of the country, have remained largely peaceful, communities have occasionally attempted to seize or disrupt electricity generation and other facilities in order to restore the supply.
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.
Those in the eastern region 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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