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Saturday, 19 September 2020

Tripoli residents break Ramadan fast by 'candlelight'

After weeks of dire petrol shortages, Libyan capital endures power and water cuts during the summer months

AFP , Sunday 7 Aug 2011
Tripoli
The quality of daily life in Tripoli is increasingly deteriorating as a direct result for the political conflict in the country (Photo:Reuters)
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Ahmad and his family stocked up on food for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but daily power cuts in the war-stricken Libyan capital mean supplies are rotting in the freezer.

Tripoli residents have complained for weeks of dire petrol shortages. Now power and water cuts have made their daily lives even worse during the summer months, at a time when the price of a cooking gas canister has shot up 50-fold.

This is excruciating during Ramadan when observant Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk before families get together for "iftar" sunset meals, a time to socialise and give thanks.

"Since the start of Ramadan (last week), we have been breaking the fast by candlelight," said Ahmad, as he shopped in a market in a western area of the capital.

"We can live without air conditioning but not without a fridge," he said. "The power cuts sometimes last 24 hours."

Even before Ramadan started on August 1, Ahmad, who declined to give his surname, stocked up on food to try to ensure there would be plenty to lay on the iftar table.

"But much of the food we've been keeping in the freezer has rotted," he said.

Across town, in the eastern suburb of Janzur, 20-year-old Khaled complained of the water cuts.

Tripoli residents normally receive mains water a few hours a week that is stored in tanks on the roof, with a pump system to ensure a steady flow inside the home.
But power cuts mean the pumps are idle and the faucets dry.

And to find a gas canister for cooking in Tripoli is no easy task. The few available fetch the equivalent of $50, compared to the one-dollar price tag before Libya's anti-regime insurgency broke out in February.

Food prices have also skyrocketed.

The Tripoli government, which has vowed to bring in food subsidies, says the rebels and their NATO allies are causing petrol and electricity shortages in regime-controlled areas to push the people to rise up against the authorities.

On Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim charged that rebels in the Nafusa Mountains, southwest of Tripoli, had sabotaged a pipeline that feeds into the country's sole refinery.

"The rebels closed one of the vales of the pipeline and poured large quantities of cement on it in Al-Rayania region," Kaaim said.

He said the pipeline fed fuel and gas to the refinery in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, that was used to generate electricity.

Kadhafi's regime has also accused NATO of bombing a gas turbine in the same region, as well as a high-voltage power station southwest of the capital.

Kaaim also charged the NATO alliance with aiming "to create a humanitarian crisis in Libya," and of helping rebels to seize an oil tanker ladden with 37,000 tonnes of petrol.

The 182-metre (600-foot) "Cartagena" docked on Thursday in the rebel-held port of Benghazi in eastern Libya, with rebels on board saying they seized it from government control between Malta and Tripoli.

A rebel soldier coming ashore in Benghazi told reporters that the vessel had been intercepted with the help of NATO last week "quite close to Tripoli."

The Kadhafi regime has repeatedly denounced NATO's sea blockade, saying it was preventing the import of basic supplies and violating UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 to protect the country's civilians.

Imports reaching Tripoli now come overland from neighbouring Tunisia, which has also been hit by a strike at a refinery that is threatening supplies reaching the Libyan capital.

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