Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Temehu's Libyan Visa Update (14)

The overall advice is: stay away from Libya for the time being. As noted previously, adventure travellers, taking risks by nature, may enjoy a mix of anxiety and tranquility to nurture their desire to experience the real thing; so long as they are insured and warned of the lurking danger. Armed gangs or militia outlaws could appear anywhere and strike without warning. 

Tourist and transit visas still are suspended by the Libyan transitional government; and all our visa services remain suspended until the ban is lifted. Please note that due to the volume of enquiries we may not be able to respond to all the emails we receive. Apology in advance.

  • Security And Safety: the security situation is worsening, despite the government's claim to the contrary; and the bombing campaign that was affecting mainly Benghazi has now reached the capital Tripoli. The Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, in his recent press conference (aired by, via Alwataniya), said his police and security forces have diffused a number of car bombs and that the diplomatic community was informed. No doubt the government is having difficulties finding a way out of the inflicted chaos, largely due to lack of exit strategy. But as time has demonstrated, time and time again, peace and pursuit of science are the only principles for lasting stability and prosperous success.

  • Attack on Foreign Visitors: the Libyans' worst fear is here - the attack on foreign visitors including women was officially acknowledged to have taken place in Benghazi [21], when a British family was violated by an armed group acting outside the law [22]. It is such groups that are now roaming "liberated Libya", seemingly and practically unstoppable by the law. 

  • Checkpoints: generally speaking checkpoints are manned by armed officers working for the government, but there is also the possibility of being stopped by an armed gang or rebels at a fake checkpoint. Undercover cameramen from Solidarity Press traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi to investigate the conditions in which checkpoints operate. The team have discovered that there are 18 checkpoints between Tripoli and Benghazi, as follows: 5 points in Mesratha, 2 in Sirte, and 1 point for each other town between Benghazi and Tripoli. They have also discovered that there was no proper search for identity documents in any of the checkpoints, except in Mesratha where checkpoint officers conduct vigorous checks on identities and vehicle documents, as well as search the vehicles for concealed weapons [23]. The correspondents said the security forces manning the checkpoints were from the Security Support Units & Military Police (جهاز الإسناد الأمني وإدارة الشرطة العسكرية).

  • Libyan Tourism: the Tourism Committee at the GNC continues to discuss the ministry's development plan for 2013. However, it is not known what the ministry can achieve with a budget of one million dinars (around £500,000) - the amount assigned to the Ministry of Tourism by the current 2013 Budget of 66.8 billion Libyan Dinars. Libya Herald says the amount given to the tourism ministry is, "the lowest sum awarded to any ministry this year" [24].

  • On Saturday the 9th of March 2013 the minister of tourism, Ikram Imam, held a meeting in Benghazi with the managers of a number of tourism companies and tourist offices from Cyrenaica, to discuss the current state of tourism in Libya. Like the minister's earlier meetings with similar organisations and companies in Tripolitania and Fezzan, the ministry reviewed the "action plan" of the ministry to create "the necessary atmosphere" for the development of sustainable tourism in Libya, such as "updating" the institutional structure of the ministry "in preparation for the start" to take the necessary steps to activate or stimulate domestic tourism and raise the quality of tourism services in the region. And like most other ministers, the tourism minister did refer to the "difficulties" the ministry had endured under the rule of the previous transitional government, such as the non-activation of the General Board for Tourism (as reported by long before the new ministry was created) and also the government's withdrawal of the Board's direct terms of reference, leading to, the minister said, obstructing the work of the ministry in relation to the "supervision" and "follow-up" of its projects. 

  • A number of managers, however, have expressed their "dissatisfaction" with the ministry's performance, and accused the ministry of not providing the necessary support and services required to enable Libyan tourism companies and organisations to fulfil their role in "activating" this vital  sector of Libya's promising economy - just as the ministry itself blamed the previous transitional government for not doing enough to re-activate tourism in Libya. They have also demanded from the minister to provide "opportunities for young Libyans" to effect and run Libyan tourism investment projects abroad, in order to benefit from the opportunity to develop their abilities and expertise in the field of tourism - just as foreign companies (including some from dictatorial states) are eagerly urged to participate and even lead. Why not, they asked, why not? At the end of the meeting, the minister expressed her "understanding" of the complaints put forward, and confirmed that the ministry "will strive to address" all the "obstacles" and proposals [17]. Understandably the minister goes away, meeting with other tourism officials from other towns, regions and states, re-reviewing her "plan" for activating tourism that never gets activated.

  • There is no doubt that tourism companies and organisations in Libya had suffered from the day the war began. Without any due support or compensation from the government to offset the loss sustained during and after the war, many Libyan tourism companies were forced to close and lay their staff, due to their inability to cover the incurred costs. Many Libyan tour operators gathered at the tourism board and demanded news regarding the saga of the "Libya Visa" and activation of tourism, without of which they cannot survive. In contrast, the Libyan transitional Prime Minister, Dr. Ali Zidan, had confirmed on the 21st of February 2013 that Libya will compensate the Turkish companies that were forced to stop their activities during the war, and that these companies will be offered "incentives" to encourage their return to Libya [10] - something most Libyan companies patiently still are waiting for. 

  • Tourism companies, civil society organisations and charities interested in tourism from Fazzan (southern Libya) have expressed their deep disapproval of the current policies of the Tourism Ministry, which they say do not benefit the nation at this particular stage, and even condemned the current policies of the ministry as a "waste of state funds". In a protest staged in Sebha, on Thursday the 14th of February 2013, they demanded from the GNC's Tourism Committee and from the Ministry of Tourism to stop wasting Libyans' money by participating in international exhibitions that do not serve the interests of the public at the present time, and instead called for the government to focus on the "inner workings of the country" [7]. They have also spoken of "financial transparency" and the establishment of a "Higher Council for Tourism" to oversee the development of tourism infrastructure in the southern region, which they said was previously neglected. Such calls for transparency were voiced before by the Board of Tourism itself, as reported in one of our earlier updates, but nothing was heard of the matter since.

  • Land Borders: the president of the Department of Cooperation and Relations at the Immigration Department, Nasreddin Ghellab, has revealed on Thursday the 7th of February 2013 the creation of an electronic system to document the entry and exit of all foreigners. The system was said to be linked to all land, sea and air entry points as well as to the Libyan embassies. The new system will enable any patrol unit to confirm within seconds  whether the provided documentation is legitimate or not. Work is also underway to link this system with the "residency system" to confirm the legality of any foreign resident in Libya. The projects are the personal efforts of the engineers, the technicians and the officers of the Immigration Department, he said [1]. 

  • Local Egyptians have blocked the road leading to the Libyan border in a protest against the new visa regulation, which requires from all Egyptian nationals to obtain Libyan visa from the Libyan embassy in Cairo before heading for the border [8]. Around ten days later, LANA reported that  the movement across the Emsaad border has returned to "normal" on the 7th of March 2013, after the Egyptian drivers were issued with temporary Libyan visa (lasting for 10 days), while at the same time maintaining the earlier requirement of Libyan entry visa to be obtained from the Libyan embassy in Egypt from all other Egyptians [15]. However, on the 30th of March 2013 LANA has issued a warning to all Libyans to avoid travelling to Egypt via the land border, and instead urged all traveller to fly to Egypt [19]. The warning came after violence broke out again in the Egyptian side, when protesters destroyed one of the custom offices [20]; leading to a number of Libyan families being stuck at the border (inside Egypt), unable to return to Libya after they were prevented from doing so by some Egyptian groups that do not belong to the Egyptian authorities, unless they raised the green flag and called Gaddafi's name, Solidarity Press said [21]. 

Read the full update at:


No comments:

Post a Comment