By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 7 February 2017:
More than two years after they were forced to flee, residents are returning to Garyounis and Gwarsha and starting to rebuild their lives. But in so many cases they are finding their homes had been caught up in the fighting and sufferd extensive – and expensive – damage.
“The outside wall has been destroyed, the walls covered in bullet marks and many of my possessions stolen or broken beyond repair,” despaired Mohamed Ali, a 38-year-old teacher.
He had been renting a flat in Birkah district with his family but financial constraints forced his return to Garyounis this week. “I just can’t afford the 800 dinars a month I’ve been paying,” he told the Libya Herald.
His case is not uncommon. Two years ago Majdi, 31, fled Garyounis with his pregnant wife and mother. Now he is back home and with a young daughter, because he too can no longer afford the rent of an apartment, in his case in downtown Jamal Abdul Nasser Street. Large parts of his property have been damaged. But he is pragmatic.
“The apartment is a mess. But I’ve started to fix it up and my family have moved back in. Tomorrow I’m handing back the keys to the owner of the flat I’ve been renting ” he said.
In many cases in Garyounis, though, homes will have to be demolished altogether and rebuilt. Theythe damage has been so severe. That is particularly the case with many apartment blocks.
In nearby Gwarsha, with its small farms, Ayhab, a 37-year-old bookshop owner, moved his large family back last week. On his little farm there are two homes. His parents and brothers live in one and he, his wife and two children in the other. Despite his home being “severely damaged” he too has begun to pick up the pieces of his former life, after staying in Kish for two years with in in-laws.
“We’ve started rebuilding the homes. In all honesty, they are not so bad that we couldn’t move back in” he said.
But going home is not so easy for everyone.
The dangers from unexploded mines are very real even though the authorities have said it is safe to return to the two areas.
Walid Al-Warfali, a 30-year-old bank clerk wants to return to the family home near the European hospital in Gwarsha. But he cannot. “My father has forbidden it because of the mines.” So he is staying put in Salmani for the time being until the mine-clearers have done their work.
For 21-year-old medical student Mohamed, though, the reason for not going back was very different. His family could not move back to Gwarsha, he said because someone had been killed in their home. They were afraid it was now haunted.