Part 1 of 2 By Liz Lucas
From inside the school in Al-Wachka comes the sound of children’s voices. At first it seems like a regular school, albeit one where the rules are relaxed. I can hear footsteps running down the hall and squeals as they play games. But for these kids, these are the hallways of their temporary home.
There are over fifty people living in the classrooms, ten families that traveled together in a convoy to escape the war that has engulfed their hometown of Sirte.
They’ve escaped bombings and shootings and found shelter 100 km away from their homes. The children are distracted, but the adults are worried. CIVIC spoke with Mohammed*, a 39 year-old petroleum engineer about what life is like for him and his family.
“We didn’t have a plan when we left. We just drove,” he said. “We had to go. There were explosions everywhere, smoke everywhere, death everywhere.”
There is no water at the school where he, his wife, and their four children are staying and minimal support for the families here displaced by the fighting. The families left in a hurry, taking almost nothing, waiting for the fighting to be over.
“We have brought so little. We came in one city car that had my family. We didn’t have time to choose what to bring. Medicine. Clothes. Some photographs,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed saw the fighting firsthand; witnessing cars full of bodies driven out and civilians dying around him. His uncle was killed after his house was hit. Mohammed’s mother died of medical complications as the war raged on. The hospital had no supplies to treat her: “There’s no oxygen, no doctors, no medicine. There’s nothing in the hospital.”
There was firing throughout the city and he says a NATO bomb killed his neighbors, a family of 7, while they were driving out. The bombing also destroyed three schools, which may or may not have been legitimate military targets. The fighting in general has ruined the infrastructure of the city. Houses are damaged and he saw four children and woman killed by a rocket and their house destroyed. The situation overall is “horrible.”
*Name has been changed to protect his identity.