By Libya Herald staff.
Tunis, 1 April 2015:
Residents of Ben Jawad are now finally returning to their homes after Operation Sharooq (Sunrise) . . .[restrict]forces withdrew from a three-month battle to try and take control of the Sidra oil export terminal.
The town’s entire population was evacuated in December following the arrival of Sahrooq forces sparked a bombing campaign by Libyan National Army (LNA) forces. Families fled to nearby towns, including Nawafliya, with some going as far as Sirte, whilst poorer families stayed in makeshift desert encampments.
The Sharooq troops, who had used the town as base from which to launch their military operations on Sidra, left the town at the end of last week, either returning Misrata or relocating to Sirte to join in the fight against Islamic State militants currently occupying it.
Around 90 percent of Ben Jawed residents have now returned and life is steadily returning to normal, the head of the town’s Crisis Committee, Fadiel Fadeal, told the Libya Herald.
Some 40 houses had been destroyed by the bombings, he said, adding that the council was assessing the damage and preparing to submit a report to the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), which has reportedly promised to compensate affected families.
Damage to one of the schools in the town as well as the local branch of the Wahda Bank is also being assessed. The bank, where unexploded mini-bombs lay scattered across the floor from a missile which lodged in the ceiling, was cleared by a disposal unit of the LNA, sent by the internationally-recognised parliament the House of Representatives. Local volunteers then helped bank staff to clear the remaining debris in the foyer of the bank.
Members of Operation Sharooq also cleared and detonated some unexploded ordinance before leaving Ben Jawad.
Although shops are now reopening and the town’s schools are expected to restart this week, residents still face some problems.
“The main help needed is at the hospital,” Fadeal said. “They are running out of medicines and more supplies are needed, especially medication for treating diabetes, epilepsy and high blood pressure.”
He said there was also a shortage of cash, with the manager of the Wahda Bank expressing concern about the transport of large amounts of money to the town, due to ongoing instability in the area.