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Libya Tourism News – visa updates and travel news.

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Libyan Visa Update (15):

15 January 2014

libyan women in disguise

Tourist Visa:

  • The Ministry of Tourism has finally decided to start issuing tourist visas to foreign nationals wishing to visit Libya. The decision was taken in a meeting between the minister of tourism and Tripoli's immigration officials on the 26th of December 2013 [68]. Officials at the ministry of tourism have confirmed the news to us on early January 2014. The good news was also confirmed by the ministry's media coordinator to Libya Herald [66].

  • In a separate development Solidarity Press has reported [67] an agreement between the Libyan and Tunisian ministries of tourism to begin the activation of tourism in Libya and Tunisia. The agreement came after the Libyan minister visited Tunisia in December 2013 and agreed with her counterpart a number of measures including cooperation in the fields of tourism marketing and training. The representative of the Tunisian Office of Tourism in Tripoli, Mr. Ezeddin Alqarami, was reported to have said that the agreement relates to the preparations made for the year 2014, which will be a "promising year" for both countries [67].

  • The new visa procedure is almost identical to the old one. Your chosen operator or visa provider needs to receive a scanned copy of your passport's bio page and also a list of the sites to be visited ('the route'). The visa approval will be available within 48 hours of the application being presented to the tourism ministry (if all goes well). During the old procedure the application is presented to the immigration department for approval, but now the application must presented to the tourism ministry. The ministry processes the application then transfers the request to the immigration department. Finally the visa approval is collected from the immigration department. Like before, the approval can be used to obtain the actual visa stamp on arrival without the need to visit the embassy. The visa stamp will be valid for four weeks from the date of issue; renewable on request and pending approval. It is understood that there will be a simplification of the entry procedure at all the entry points including the land borders. As we have reported in our earlier updates, the compulsory tourist guide is no longer required; and the passport Arabic translation was abolished in 2010 by the previous government. The only obstacle remaining to tackle is safety, which is now worse than ever before.

  • There seems to be a sudden change in the ministry's policy regarding tourist visa. According to the earlier news released on the 19th of June 2013 the Libyan tourism minister Ikram Imam "said she did not expect foreign holiday makers to return for another two years" [2] – that is until June 2015; as further confirmed on the 28th of October 2013, when she told LANA [6] that due to the deterioration of security in Libya the tourism ministry does not aspire to have foreign tourists this year [2013] nor in the following year [2014]. Nothing has changed in relation to security and safety, and therefore all visitors are warned that the assassination campaign that was targeting Libyans in the past has now began to affect foreign visitors too (see below for details).

  • On the 8th of January 2014 the tourism ministry's staff went on strike, apparently protesting against the ministry's "waste of state funds" – in reference to the money spent by the ministry on attending international tourism fairs, as we have reported in one of our earlier updates. There are however other points of concern, such as the ministry's lack of approach to cooperative management; meeting with Arab tourism officials from dictatorial states; poor website; and the ministry's failure to implement a proper administrative structure across all its regional offices.

  • The strike coincided with a protest by a group calling itself the "Women Against Corruption", reportedly protesting against the alleged financial and administrative corruption at the ministry of tourism [70], and demanding the removal of the minister of tourism from her office. Such demands reflect the current chaos inflicting Libyan politics where people can appear anywhere, with or without weapons, demanding the removal of government officials and closing down oil terminals and other essential installations required to run a country!

  • Among its recent projects the ministry said it has started work on a range of tourist projects including those in Tellil (in Sabratha) and in the Green Mountain (Cyrenaica) [6]. It has also activated the Emsaad Tourism Information Centre on the 26th of June 2013, when the deputy assistant of the tourism ministry, Mr. Khalid Khlifa Hsien, visited a number of areas east of Tobruk, reportedly to gather information about the areas in preparation for establishing tourist investment projects in the area [1]. He also met with the members of Emsaad Local Council and other tourist companies and organisations to officially activate Emsaad Tourism Office. It is hoped that the office will present its tourist investment projects to attract visitors and tourists to the area. Of course, the real disaster affecting Emsaad is the "lack of border security", without of which there can never be tourism in Emsaad or anywhere else in Libya.

  • Libyan economy deputy minister, Dr Abdelkarem Mgeg, was refused British visa to attend a business meeting in preparation for the so-called "Foreign Direct Investment Libya Focus conference" [3]. Apparently since his Schengen visa was issued from Poland Dr. Mgeg needed to enter Europe via Poland before he could travel to other Schengen countries.


Fake Visas:

  • We have mentioned in one of our earlier updates that suspending some types of visas encourages criminals to exploit the vacuum created by taking monopoly of fake visas, as well as abusing the allowed visas for purposes other than those permitted. For example, the expensive business visas are widely provided by visa offices for business men and women, journalists, transit travellers and tourists alike.

  • It was recently reported that criminals have resorted to various methods for smuggling blank visas between countries, including using clothes parcels. The following three incidents – all from the month of October (2013) – were chosen to illustrate the scale of the disaster the authorities still reluctant to recognise; not to say anything of the officials who were reported to have been issuing genuine identity numbers and official documents including birth certificates and passports to non-Libyans (presumably once they have been smuggled into the country on either fake visa or across the porous border [27]). On the 24th of October 2013 the Egyptian authorities intercepted a 16-kg clothes parcel containing 4923 blank Libya visas and 9600 duty stamps, apparently sent to Falcon Trading Company (شركة صقر تريدنج) from "Dubai-China" [24]. Six days earlier, immigration officials at Mesratha airport deported 171 Egyptian nationals back to Egypt on the same plane after arriving with fake Libyan visas [25]. The same source also said that  450 fake visas were intercepted in the previous week alone. While on the 18th of October 2013, Egyptian officials at Cairo airport have confiscated 695 blank Libyan visa forms "concealed inside a consignment of Chinese tea" [26]. And on the 1st of December 2013 officials at Mesratha airport returned 360 passengers to Egypt after arriving with fake Libyan visas onboard two separate planes [53].

  • 10 June 2013: the Maltese foreign affairs ministry is investigating an alleged "racket" profiteering from issuing expensive Maltese visas in Libya. According to Malta Today [31], "Reportedly, the Maltese Consulate in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, is charging up to €3,000 for visa applications which cost €70 (120 Libyan Dinars)." Although the source relates that the ministry was investigating the alleged crimes for "weeks", such incidents were in fact reported since March 2012 (see our Visa Update 7).

 

Checkpoints:

  • As reported earlier, attacks on checkpoints and the setting up of fake checkpoints continue to take place in freed Libya. Travel at night is not recommended, and camping in deserted places remains a risky adventure in today's Libya, especially after the dead bodies of one British engineer and a New Zealand woman were found by the beach in Sabratha in December 2013.

  • According to Solidarity Press, the government authorised Libya Shield Forces to set up a number of checkpoints across the capital Tripoli in an attempt to clamp down on the terror activities carried out by the mystery terrorists in black vehicles (without number plates and with tinted glass) [9].

  • The announcement (if it amounts to anything in practice) came after the spat of violence that plighted the capital Tripoli in recent months. For example, exactly seven days before the announcement was made a fake checkpoint was set up by an armed gang of "mystery men" in Aarea 27 West of Tripoli, confiscating "modern cars" from their owners while shouting abuse [10].

  • 6 September 2013: a group of mystery men attacked a checkpoint in the town of Sousa, Cyrenaica. No serious casualties were reported, but one guard and two of the attackers were injured during the ensued exchange of fire [11]. By January 2014 the same checkpoint was attacked five times.

  • 8 November 2013: a checkpoint with a small guards building near Benghazi was flattened to the ground in a massive bomb blast. The same check point was bombed earlier in the year.

  • 14 November 2013: Mr. Ahmed Hamouda, a special forces officer from Benghazi, was shot dead whilst performing his duties at a checkpoint in the Gardens Area [47].

  • 16 November 2013: three men in grey BMW fired at a check point in Benghazi outside the "7 October Hospital". The point was manned by the Mushat al-Bahria Brigade [49]. This is one of the very rare occasions in which the culprits were later arrested – two men and one woman.

  • 25 November 2013: LANA has reported that unknown assailants attacked a checkpoint at the entrance to Derna's seaport with a suitcase-bomb. LANA said the bomb blast was heard across the town of Derna, causing massive devastation but no human casualties [50]. However, on the following day, Solidarity Press reported that according to the port's manager, Mr. Ibrahim Alousta, the news circulated by the media is far from true [51].

  • Libya's First Suicide Bomber Strikes in Bersis: Libya declared a 3-day official mourning on the 22nd of December 2013 for the 13 people killed in Libya's first suicide bomb in history. The suicide terrorist struck at Bersis checkpoint [69], east of Benghazi; thereby officially putting freed Libya on par with liberated Afghanistan and  democratised Iraq!

 

Land Borders:

Emsaad land border continues to be unpredictable, with the usual closures and occasional trouble. Ras Ejdir and Wazen appear to enjoy a relative stability in recent months, with the occasional incident that often results in closing the border for a few days. If you do have an entry visa to Libya then you would be allowed to enter and exit via these land borders. Remember, if you are allowed in via Ras Ejdir, for example, then you should be able to exit at the other end (Emsaad).  After the recent development tourist visa on arrival is now possible at Ras Ejdir and Emsaad border, as before, providing the visa approval was secured in advance.

Security: according to the spokesman of the Libyan air force in the eastern region only 50% or 60% of Libyan borders are covered by the air force, leaving nearly half of Libya's borders totally unprotected. It seems certain that the borders are controlled by mysterious forces operating under the cover of "criminal gangs" ever since the Libya War began in 2011. Such forces continue to distribute Libyan weapons across the region, as well as flood Libya with drugs, tranquillisers, fake goods, outdated and poisoned foods, explosives (200 suit cases loaded with explosives were found in one single lorry near Tobruk), and of course illegal immigrants (nearly 2 million migrants have been reported by LANA, so far).

According to an Algerian source quoted by LANA [39] the border between Libya and Algeria is under the control of extreme Salafist militias, and that 14 armed militias which do not belong to the central authority in Tripoli are in charge of the border area. Despite the fact that the Algerian government has deployed nearly 20,000 soldiers along its borders with Tunisia and Libya, reports continue to emerge of Libyan weapons (including missiles and anti-tank rockets) being found in Algeria [40; 41; 42]. It seems certain that Algeria too may soon fall to what the Berbers led to believe is an "Arab spring".

Emsaad (Amsaad):

  • 19 June 2013: Benghazi: the headquarters of the border guards in Benghazi's Boudzira area was attacked by unknown assailants who threw hand-made explosive devices at the building. No human casualties were reported. In a separate incident on the same day, a patrol unit belonging to the border guards was also attacked while on duty in the area of Rah'ba [36]. It was widely believed by many Libyans that the organisation(s) responsible for the illegal border activities are behind the attacks on the border points and border guards and offices.

  • 01 July 2013: Salloum Border: the road to the border was blocked by protestors (or by those who say they are protestors), for the usual reasons that are reported before.  A few days later, on the 5th of July 2013, the Emsaad border point with Egypt was closed on orders from the Libyan government. According to a special forces commander, the border point was closed after it was found manned by civilians dressed in military uniform who do not belong to any official body [34].

  • 20 July 2013: the Egyptian army fires bullets at unauthorised gangs practicing illegal activities along the Libyan-Egyptian border, injuring a number of people [31]. Reports from Libya continue to speak of complete chaos and total lack of law at the Emsaad border point.

  • 21 July 2013: Solidarity Press first reported the rumours regarding the border point of Emsaad being destroyed with explosives by armed groups acting outside the law [4]. This came two days after the Egyptian army was reported [5] to have been involved in clashes with outlaws from the Egyptian side of the border. It seems both governments are unable to deal with the determination of such mystery cells operating outside any known law, with the Libyan government claiming weak and helpless to protect such strategic border point – given the amount of weapons and immigrants that are flowing in both directions via this particular border point, in addition to the numerous other points strewn along the thousands and thousands of miles of Libya's unsecured borders.

  • 28 July 2013: the Egyptian authorities announced today that the border with Libya will be closed after 72 hours. The decision came after the total collapse of security at the border point between the two countries following the 30th of June military coup in Egypt [22]. Smuggling of goods, drugs, weapons and illegal immigrants became rife during the past few weeks. On the same day, the Libyan prime minister Ali Zidan announced the deployment of police, army and customs officers to Emsaad to secure the border point; as he also revealed the formation of a "security room" to secure Emsaad border, and a similar room for Ras Ejdir [21]. The Libyan border was in fact closed from the previous day (the 27th of July 2013) on orders from the prime minister, apparently to prevent the assassins responsible for the latest assassinations in Benghazi from escaping to Egypt [23].

  • 03 August 2013: according to the commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, Almahdi Alawwami, services at Emsaad have returned to normal, after the battalion was appointed to secure the border point following the recent trouble [19]. On the 3rd of July 2013, a group of outlaws attacked members of the battalion at the border point, damaging a number of government vehicles. The attackers have attempted to steal one of the vehicles, but they were defeated and fled the scene [20].

  • 19 September 2013: chaos and total absence of law were reported by a number of people who traveled through the Egyptian-Libyan border. According to some travellers there were no Libyan officials at the Libyan border of Emsaad, and that after spending hours looking for any border official to check their documents the procedure is often "strange" and unofficial. There was no news of the "security room" setup by the prime minister in July. On the other side of the border, at Salloum, some travellers complained that the border point is manned by civilians from Salloum, some of whom charge up to two hundred Libyan dinars just for the stamp [18].

  • 19 October 2013: the ministry of interior issued a decree commissioning colonel Abdulrazaq Mohammed Aldrouqi director of the National Security Directorate for Emsaad land border. The head of Emsaad Local Council told LANA that Colonel Aldrouqi had assumed his new duties with utmost seriousness and determination [13].

  • 21 October 2013: the Egyptian authorities re-open Salloum border for Egyptian and Libyan passengers only. The point was closed three days earlier after nearly 50 Egyptian lorries were held for six days by protestors in Ejdabiyah. The protestors were protesting against the imprisonment of their relatives in Egypt. All the Egyptian hostages were released unharmed [12].

  • 24 October 2013: according to Solidarity Press, the commander of the 1st Infantry, Col. Mahdi Mabrouk, announced the withdraw of his unit from Emsaad border. The army unit was in charge of the border point since July 2013. Solidarity's source also said the withdrawal was due to the lack of "means" and the lack of "support from the local people". Chaos at the border was due to the fact that transit commerce was disorganised, Colonel Mabrouk told Solidarity Press [52].

  • General Sisi, the head of the Egyptian coup that toppled elected Morsi, was reported recently to have warned that Egypt's border with Libya is the greatest strategic danger currently facing Egypt. However, many Egyptians feel it is Sisi himself who is the greatest danger to Egypt after robbing them of victory and thereby plunging Egypt in great turmoil.

Ras Ejdir:

  • 01 July 2013: Ras Ejdir Border: long delays from the Tunisian side, with no apparent reason. Libyan officials wave all travellers leaving Libya (mostly Libyans) quickly, after carrying out the usual checking procedures, but once they reach the Tunisian side the traffic comes to a stand still [35].

  • 9 July 2013: the Tunisian consulate in Tripoli was attacked by some angry Libyan assailants, in a protest against the Tunisian border authorities whom they say seized their goods and cash [33].

  • 28 September 2013: Ras Ejdir border was reopened today after an agreement has been reached by both sides [17]. The border was initially closed on the 24th of September after the Tunisian authorities fired in the air to disperse the Tunisian crowed that gathered around the Tunisian border point in Bengerdan. Reports [15] state that trouble erupted between Libyans and Tunisians after a Tunisian national was attacked and stabbed by Libyans inside Libya, to which the Tunisian authorities responded by firing in the air to disperse the crowed. In response to this, the Libyan authorities closed the border point at Ras Ejdir. However, according to a number of accounts from Zuwara Media Centre [16], a Tunisian man, named Adel Tabet, was attacked and stabbed in Zelten (a small Arab village between Zuwara and Ras Ejdir), before some Libyans intervened and took him to the shared border between Libya and Tunisia. When the injured Tunisian arrived in Bengerdan, many Tunisians were reported to have began attacking Libyans inside Tunisia, with one group even attacking the Tunisian border point in Bengerdan, which prompted the Tunisian authorities to fire in the air to disperse the crowed. According to another account, Adel Tabet was in Zelten to sell 10,000 dinars worth of pasta, which he brought with him from Bengerdan, and that after he completed the deal he left Zelten, before he was stopped by assailants in a black Chevrolet car (with a long antenna) between Zelten and Abukemmash, stabbed him and took all his cash before fleeing the scene. It was other Libyans who took him to the hospital before the news reached Bengerdan, when his relatives began attacking Libyans.

Southern Borders:

  • As covered in our earlier updates, on the 19th of December 2012 the temporary prime minister, Ali Zidan, declared the southern region of Libya a "military zone", and stated that the Libyan air force is out to blast outlaws taking advantage of Libya's southern borders. Ten months later, the situation on the ground is ten times worse, and to illustrate the weakness of his government the Libyans say the PM staged his own kidnapping – albeit for a few hours. Of course, it would not be fair to blame neither the Libyan government nor the Libyan people (the protected civilians).

  • According to a recent report by Libya Herald, illegal immigrants are crossing the border at Madama (near Tumu – the Libyan official border crossing station) without being asked for any documents, and that according to the head of Murzuk's military security, Colonel Barca, around "600 illegal immigrants cross the border every day" [14]. The more disturbing news is that the colonel said the authorities in Tripoli never bothered to reply to their requests for materials including vehicles and weapons. The same reluctance was reported from Emsaad and from Ras Ejdir.

  • The Libya Herald report goes on to speak of an al-Qaeda terrorist camp in Isseyne, at the border between Ghat and Algeria, and that when Hassan Massafer ("a member of Katiba 206 in Obari") informed the authorities in Tripoli, he was told by the authorities: "‘Don’t do anything. You don’t see it. You don’t look at it!’" [14].

  • Such bizarre response, or allegation, is difficult to explain; but according to the same report, Tuareg civil authorities accuse "Tripoli of using the [terrorists] argument in order not to process their request to give Libya[n] national ID numbers to 14,000 Tuareg families" [14]. It is important to note here that the Berber Tuareg's ID issue goes back to Gaddafi's era, when a number of Tuareg families were living in Libya without Libyan ID's. One of the reasons was that the Libyan government made it a condition for Tuareg families to live in newly-created settlements (or camps) in order for them to be issued with Libyan identification cards so that the government can build hospitals, schools and other essential amenities, which otherwise it cannot provide if families choose to stay nomads (as they have always been). In response, some Tuareg sources (at the time) said Gaddafi's move intended to Arabise their society, as was the case in Algeria, where many Tuareg communities were abandoned in the desert after refusing integration into the state's camps. It seems the same issue continues to be a source of trouble for the native Berbers of the Great Sahara (now divided into Libya, Algeria, Niger and Mali).

 

Terrorism in (New) Libya:

  • The Western media today openly speaks of Libya being a dangerous place, plagued with terrorists and outlaw militias that refused to lay down their weapons, without saying who really was behind the training and coordination of such deadly militias in the first place – when the world was united to destroy Libya's central authority with an iron fist and without an exit strategy. The true implications of such regime change were obscured by the media's propaganda regarding the success of the violent intervention; the success of the bungled elections (hurriedly organised while the Libyans were kept busy blasting each other in the background); and the disasters of the unjust constitutional declaration that sent Libya back to square one. To be fairer to the truth, at least the Independent did make the effort to scratch the surface in its "Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin", though without pinpointing the cause of it all.

  • During Gaddafi's dictatorial grip on power Libya was among the safest destinations in the world. During the UN-authorised bombing campaign warnings were voiced regarding  radical flicker being amongst the rebels of Cyrenaica, but no one really cared about the consequences Libya made to suffer. NTC's rebel prime minister Mr. Mahmood Jibril warned during the bombing campaign that the weapons sent to Libya by some dictatorial states were reaching radical groups in Cyrenaica, but no one wanted to know. Terrorism is now well established in (Free) Libya, especially after the UN's 5,900 bombing missions were announced "complete with precision".

  • Two years ago, most Libyans were assured that Libya will never become like democratised Iraq, where nearly 1.4 million Iraqis died after the hanging of Saddam in the Big Feast, but today it is almost impossible to have a single day without a terrorist act shocking the Libyans already disoriented by the devastating war. It took Libya's chief of the Special Forces two years to say there was a "conspiracy" to plunge Libya into civil war; with Libya itself becoming the safe haven for radical groups and the centre for world terrorists, complete with Tesco - the largest arms black supermarket in the world.

  • The biggest problem Libya faces today is the tragedy of Libyans being divided into two opposing groups: the loyalists and the rebels – ignoring for the time being the "climbers", "defectors", "federalists", "Berberists" and the assisted "radicals". All Libyans are urged to lay down their (given) arms and remember that only those who encourage civilians to use violence to achieve peace would benefit from seeing people kill each other. Violence is not the answer and will never be the answer, no matter what others say. The loyalists need to know that punishing the Libyan civilians and in the process destroying Libya itself is exactly what their true enemies would love to see.

  • The Black Chevrolet mentioned in a number of terrorist incidents has become a common feature of Libyan terrorism. Such vehicle (often with tinted glass and without number plates) was reportedly involved in countless incidents all over Libya, from Ras Ejdir to Mesratha and from Sert to Derna. Are they loyalists intent to foil the uprising, as the obscure government says? Are they gladios preparing the climate for further foreign intervention, as propounded by some sources in the West? Are they sponsored radicals intent to destabilise Libya, as some Libyan officials say? One thing for sure, they are well-organised, persistent, very active, totally invisible, very sophisticated, and never fail. No ordinary criminal could host such a collection of "special" qualities without ever being caught or fail, and hence many Berbers, from Azawad to Zuwarah, often refer to such groups by the name of "mystery cells". Many of the clashes, assassinations and border activity were associated with such mystery groups, with the government always unable to identify nor arrest any of the mystery terrorists. For example, the recent deadly clashes of the 15th of November 2013 in the capital Tripoli, which left nearly 40 dead and 400 injured, were reportedly started by mystery shooters [48]. Similar masked shooters, as reported by Aljazeera, appeared in Egypt immediately after the military coup against Morsi, shooting at Sisi's army to provoke a response against the otherwise peaceful protestors.

  • A number of foreign men were arrested in Libya during the past few years, but detailed information released by the government remains rare. On the 6th of June 2013, a 200-seat boat was found empty near the coast of Zuwarah. According to Hafed Alqeffaz, the manager of marine affairs at the seaport of Zuwarah, his team was instructed by the Libyan navy to pull the empty boat to the port. He also said that the boat (named مار إيام) was found empty because its occupants were previously arrested by Libyan forces and taken to the city of Zawiya, leaving the boat behind [37]. Mr Alqeffaz revealed that the documents found inside the boat show the occupants to be Syrian navy officers, and that a number of flags belonging to different countries were found inside the boat. He also speculated that the boat may had an illegal accomplice inside Libyan territorial waters.

  • According to Reuters  "four American military personnel" [58] were arrested in Libya, apparently not by government forces but reportedly by the militias operating in and around Sabratha. Solidarity Press said the group consisted of "five foreigners" who attempted to escape when they were ordered to stop at a checkpoint between Sabratha and  Lajilat in western Libya, and that according to eyewitnesses the men had "light weapons" and one of the cars that attempted to escape was chased to the area of Tawila after which it was found burnt [59]. LANA said the four military men were members of the American embassy's security team [60], who, according to the New York Times, were in the area of Sabratha because they "were believed to have been reviewing potential evacuation routes for diplomats" [61]. The American ambassador Deborah Jones visited Sabratha just a few weeks earlier where, according to Libya Herald, she discussed "potential cooperation" with the local council [63].

  • On the 2nd of January 2014 the media reported two more Americans being arrested inside Benghazi University's campus, before they were taken by the Libyan special forces to the headquarters of the Libyan army in Benghazi. Initially Reuters said their identities were not "immediately clear" and that the American embassy "could not be reached for comment" [58]. Other sources said the two were in Libya to play basket ball, but Solidarity Press [65] said the two suspects, one American and the other from Cameroon, were arrested filming near the campus and that during questioning they insisted on being basket ball players despite the fact that they do not belong to any sport club nor to any other organisation in Libya.

  • On the 3rd of January 2014 the bodies of a British man and a New Zealand woman were found by the beach near the Mellitah gas complex, near Sabratha. LANA said the dead bodies showed signs of being shot with bullets [64]. A few days later, the body of the British victim was identified to be that of Mr. Mark De Salis, a power manager who was bringing electricity generators to Libya and who was (in the past), according to Sky News, an RAF member. The female body was identified to be that of Lynn Howie, who according to Libya Herald was in Libya for a visit.

 

Attacks on Hotels & Hotel Bombs:

For the first time in Libya's history big hotels have become a terrorist target. This means that it is probably safer to stay in the smaller hotels than go for the luxury resorts. All the hotels attacked so far are 5-star hotels:

  • Radisson Blu Hotel: 7 November 2013: heavy armed clashes nearby the hotel have resulted in the hotel being hit a number of times. The building was damaged, with "a lot of broken glass in the lobby", a member of staff told Libya Herald. There were no casualties reported, but the guests were relocated to the basement [43]. The clashes started between Waddan bridge and the planetarium after the commander of "Misrata Nosoor Battalion", Mr. Nuri Friwan, was murdered on the 5th of November. In retaliation his forces and/or supporters in the capital attacked a number of local brigades in Tajoura and Suq al-Juma [44], resulting in 29 injuries and 2 deaths [45]. The fighting was reported to have spread to a number of areas including Algeria Square, Ben Ashur and Alshat street, involving heavy machine guns, RPGs and snipers.

  • Waddan Hotel: 7 November 2013: initially Waddan was not mentioned during the 7th of November clashes, but later it emerged that a number of important building were hit including the Waddan Hotel, the Turkish and the Italian embassies, the ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the ministry of Planning. One diplomatic source, who was staying at the Waddan Hotel at the time, had confirmed to Libya Herald that, "An armed group entered the Waddan, [PM] Zeidan said, and terrorised guests, including senior diplomatic staff. Possessions and money were apparently taken at gunpoint" [46].

  • Radisson Blu Hotel: 29 July 2013: a car-bomb was successfully defused outside the 5-star hotel, apparently after "an unknown person" reported the vehicle [28]. The car bomb was said to consist of "eleven explosive devices" and "ten seven-litre containers of petrol”.   Security barriers were installed in the hotel to prevent unauthorised vehicles parking near the hotel after a "bomb threat" was received on the 26th of April 2013 [29]. The 29th of July car bomb was left near one of the newly installed security barriers.

  • Corinthia Hotel: 23 July 2013: a mortar narrowly missed the 5-star hotel and instead hit a block of flats nearby. The missile was launched from a vehicle that was parked in a car park behind the Corinthia hotel. According to Libya Herald, a loud explosion was heard by guests inside the hotel, while workers on the 16th floor of one of the Dat Elemad towers "heard the blast and reported that the building shook" [30].

 

Overall Advice:

Although tourist and business visas are currently being issued to foreign visitors wishing to visit or transit Libya, we strongly advise against all but essential travel to Libya. Armed gangs and militias can appear anywhere and strike without warning. Regardless of what the government and its foreign allies say, terrorism is now well established in Libya, with bomb blasts gradually becoming more familiar to the Libyan civilians, and the assassination campaign that was previously targeting Libyans is now affecting foreign nationals, some of whom were shot on the spot. Visitors are advised to avoid driving at night, venturing into isolated areas alone, and camping in deserted locations. The Berber Tuareg of the Sahara say it is safe for tourists to visit the desert, despite the continued violence in and around Sabha and Kufra.

References:

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  11. Libya Herald, article: /2013/09/06/checkpoint-attack-at-sousa/
  12. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/33961/السلطات_المصرية_تعيد_فتح_منفذ_السلوم_البري_أمام_حركة_تنقل_المواطنين_المصريين_إلى_ليبيا
  13. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/33862/تكليف_العقيد_عبد_الرزاق_محمد_الدروقي_مديرا_لمديرية_الأمن_الوطني_بالمنفذ_البري_امساعد
  14. Libya Herald, article: /2013/09/20/souther-borders-wide-open/
  15. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/24270-الجيش_التونسي_يغلق_معبر_رأس_جدير_الحدودي/
  16. facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=571711752876467&set=a.225595200821459.50202.224694334244879
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  20. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/10417-محاولة_بعض_الخارجين_عن_القانون_الاستيلاء_على_سيارة_للجيش_في_مساعد/
  21. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/27771/رئيس_الحكومة_المؤقتة_يعلن_عن_انتقال_قوات_من_الجيش_والشرطة_والجمارك_إلى_منطقة_امساعد_لتسيير_والأشراف_على_منفذ_امساعد_الحدودي_مع_مصر
  22. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/9748-سلطات_الجمارك_المصرية__تقفل_المنفذ_البري_بين_مصر_وليبيا_./
  23. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/27677/الأجهزة_الأمنية_الليبية_تغلق_منفذ_امساعد_الحدودي_مع_مصر
  24. qurynanew.com/56213 
  25. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/33826/ضبط_تأشيرات_مزورة_على_جوازات_قادمين_من_الاسكندرية
  26. Libya Herald, article: /2013/10/18/cairo-customs-seize-blank-libyan-visas/
  27. Libya Herald, article: /2013/09/20/beida-protest-against-fake-citizenship-documents/
  28. Libya Herald, article: /2013/07/30/car-bomb-defused-outside-radisson-blu-hotel/
  29. Libya Herald, article: /2013/04/26/bomb-threat-to-libya-movie-awards/
  30. Libya Herald, article: /2013/07/23/mortar-attack-misses-corinthia-hits-oap-flat/
  31. maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/national/Visas-racket-in-Libya-under-investigation-ministry-20130610
  32. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/7506-عناصر_الجيش_المصري_تُطلق_الرصاص_على_جماعات_غير_قانونية_على_حدودها_مع_ليبيا/
  33. Libya Herald, article: /2013/07/09/tunisian-consulate-attacked-by-angry-libyan-smugglers/
  34. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/4487-إغلاق_منفذ_إمساعد_الحدودي_مع_مصر_إلى_حين_تكليف_قوات_رسمية_بحمايته/
  35. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/25923/منفذ_رأس_اجدير_الحدودي_بين_ليبيا_وتونس_يشهد_منذ_الساعات_الأولى_من_صباح_اليوم_الاثنين_اختناقا_شديدا_في_عملية_الدخول_إلى_الأراضي_التونسية
  36. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/24987/مقر_ودورية_تابعة_لركن_حرس_الحدود_والأهداف_الحيوية_بمدينة_ببنغازي_يتعرضان_لهجومين_منفصلين_بواسطة_قنابل_يدوية_دون_تسجيل_أضرار_بشرية
  37. qurynanew.com/52214
  38. Libya Herald, article: /2013/11/02/women-friendly-cafe-in-benghazi-bombed/
  39. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/34111/صحف_جزائرية_الجيش_الجزائري_يأمر_وحداته_على_الحدود_مع_ليبيا_بعدم_التنسيق_الأمني_مع_كل_وحدة_عسكرية_غير_نظامية_موجودة_على_الحدود_الجزائر
  40. worldtribune.com/2013/11/01/al-qaida-said-storing-huge-arsenal-of-sams-in-algeria/
  41. Libya Herald, article: /2013/10/27/algerians-seizes-large-libyan-arms-stash/
  42. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/28075/القوات_الجزائرية_تصادر_كمية_من_الأسلحة_قرب_الحدود_الليبية
  43. Libya Herald, article: /2013/11/07/fighting-continues-in-tripoli-hotel-hit-guests-evacuated-to-basement/
  44. Libya Herald, article: /2013/11/08/misrata-breaks-with-rogue-militia-after-worst-violence-tripoli-seen-since-revolution/
  45. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/35332/مصدر_امني_الاشتباكات_التي_وقعت_الليلة_البارحة_بين_مجموعتين_مسلحتين_في_طرابلس_أسفرت_عن_سقوط_قتيلين_و29_جريحا
  46. Libya Herald, article: /2013/11/14/damaged-embassies-upset-by-last-weeks-clashes/
  47. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/35881/مقتل_عنصر_من_القوات_الخاصة_ببنغازي_أثناء_تأديته_لواجبه_الأمني
  48. Libya Herald, article: /2013/11/15/first-shots-fired-at-ghargour-protest-from-unknown-place-bishr/
  49. Libya Herald, article: /2013/11/17/three-arrested-in-benghazi-after-checkpoint-shooting/
  50. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/36725/مجهولون_يستهدفون_بوابة_مدخل_ميناء_درنة_البحري_بوضع_حقيبة_متفجرة
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  52. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/38657-الكتيبة_الأولى_تنسحب_من_منفذ_مساعد/
  53. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/37193/ضبط_360_من_حاملي_الجنسية_المصرية_يحملون_تأشيرة_مزو_رة_بمطار_مصراتة
  54. ahram.org.eg/NewsQ/240077.aspx
  55. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/34275/كتيبة_عمر_المختار_التابعة_لحرس_الحدود_تضبط_سيارة_ليبية_محملة_بحوالى_2_مليون_حبة_هلوسة_ترامادول
  56. drugs.com/pro/tramadol-tablets.html
  57. gate.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/4/6/424089/حـوادث/تقارير/مدير-المرور-المركزي-ضبط--سيارة-مسروقة-وأسلحة-وذخائ.aspx
  58. reuters.com/article/2014/01/02/libya-killings-idUSL6N0KC28C20140102
  59. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/43254-شهود_عيان_:_الخمسة_الذين_اعتقلتهم_قوات_صبراتة_حاولوا_الهرب/
  60. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/39269/توقيف_4_عسكريين_أميركيين_من_طاقم_امن_السفارة_الأميركية_لفترة_وجيزة_في_ليبيا
  61. nytimes.com/2013/12/28/world/africa/libya.html?hpw&rref=world
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  63. Libya Herald, article: /2013/12/28/us-embassy-security-staff-released-after-arrest-near-sabratha/
  64. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/39699/العثور_على_بريطاني_ونيوزيلندية_مقتولين_بالرصاص_في_منطقة_مليته_غرب_صبراته
  65. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/44134-الإفراج_على_أجنبيين_بعد_ساعات_من_احتجازهما_في_بنغازي/
  66. Libya Herald, article: /2014/01/04/libya-to-start-issuing-tourist-visas/
  67. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/43988-ليبيا_و_تونس_تبحثان_آفاق_تعاون_واعد_في_القطاع_السياحي/
  68. https://www.facebook.com/LIBYANTOURISM.LY
  69. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/38839/تفجير_انتحاري_بنقطة_تفتيش_برسس_شرق_بنغازي
  70. Libya Herald, article: /2014/01/09/womens-group-stages-anti-corruption-demonstration-outside-ministry-of-tourism/

End of update (15).

 

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (14):

22 May 2013

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.


(1)

  • Security & 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 Libya.tv, via Alwataniya), said his police and security forces have diffused a number of car bombs and that the diplomatic community was informed.

  • 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 outlaws 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).

  • As reported in one of our previous updates, the Libyan prime minister Dr. Ali Zidan has assured Libya Herald on the 31st of January 2013 that, “in a few weeks security will be fine and companies will be back” [11]. A few weeks later, the Prime Minister himself was called by the GNC for questioning over the failure of his government to provide security for the GNC, let alone for the whole of Libya. And a few months later, security worsened, when for the first time in Libya's history Libyan children were "blown to pieces". Without any official body to state the law, the Libyans cannot understand how any decision can be implemented, let alone followed-up. The government, however, says they are aware of these outlaws, they know who they are, and that they are gradually building the apparatus to deal with "outlaws". No doubt the government is having difficulties finding a way out of the chaos, mainly due to lack of exit strategy. 


(2)

  • 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. The meeting was attended by deputy head of the local council of Benghazi Saad Saaiti; deputy minister of tourism Abdasameea Mahboub; assistant deputy minister of tourism Khaled Hussein; and director of the Tourism Office in Benghazi Ashref Ghrour. 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 Temehu.com long before the new ministry was created) and also the government's withdrawal of the Board's direct terms of reference (or وسحب مجموعة من اختصاصاتها المباشرة بقطاع السياحة), 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.

  • Compensation For Future Loss: on the 20th of May 2013 Reuters reported a bizarre case of a Kuwaiti company claiming 930 million US Dollars from Libya as compensation for the canceling of its planned tourist resort before the uprising broke out in Libya [25]. The irony is that most of the damages claimed are to cover estimated "future losses" covering the next 90 years. That is asking for cash for a project that was never built, does not exist in the real world, and for a whole 90 years (worth of revenues) from the future. Officials at Kharafi (the Kuwaiti Group in question) "were not immediately available for comment", Reuters wrote [25]; while Libya Herald reported that a Libyan senior government official had warned that "if the award, with its key component for loss of future income, were allowed to stand, it would be “a disaster”. Libya could be faced with claims running in to hundreds of billions" [26]. The Chinese, however, are not only asking for compensation incurred during the war, but also for the "increased costs of construction" since the uprising began [27].

    Apparently, Reuters said the news were also reported by al-Qabas and al-Jarida newspapers, according to which the Kuwaiti company signed a deal with deposed Gaddafi in 2006, and that the group had invested on "feasibility studies", "design" and "management contracts up until 2010, until Libya cancelled the deal" [25]. It is not categorically clear if this means that the deal was cancelled by Gaddafi or Gaddafi's government in 2010, but if it is so confirmed, then Libya would appear under no obligation to take any further action, since the NTC categorically stated that it will honour the contracts struck by foreign companies with Gaddafi, and not those cancelled by Gaddafi before the uprising began.

(3)

  • 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].

  • However, a month later – on the 7th of March 2013 – senior EU and Interpol officials were reported to have arrived at Tripoli airport on the 6th of March 2013 to launch the EU-funded border security system at Tripoli airport. The system will allow Libyan border authorities to verify any given passport against the Interpol Database, which holds records of 36 million missing passports worldwide [16].

  • Interim Deputy Ministry of Labour, Abdel Razak Altamtam, has announced on Thursday the 7th of February 2013 the suspension of all procedures relating to import of foreign labour into Libya, except those relating to companies already in contract with the state of Libya to develop and rebuild the infrastructure of the dilapidated state. He added that these measures are temporary and that there will be an urgent action in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Immigration Department, and other ministries to regulate the foreign labour market in Libya [2].

  • Libyan border officials from Emsaad met with their Egyptian counterparts on the 11th of February 2013 to discuss procedures relating to cross-border movement, better security, and prepare the border for commercial traffic and tourism. The meeting was attended by the Libyan committee appointed by the Minister of Interior to re-organise and prepare the border; some members of the local council of Emsaad; regional coordinator of information security; and representatives of some of the agencies operating at the border. From the Egyptian side the meeting was attended by the director of the Salloum border point; head of the Egyptian customs and a number of security departments and operators from Salloum [5].

  • 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]. According to Egypt Independent [9], local Egyptians say the decree was announced on Tuesday (the 19th of February 2013), and that in response, "demonstrating Egyptians are preventing Libyans from entering Egyptian territory" and that around "820 vehicles are currently gathered in and around the Salloum crossing awaiting entry to Libya". Prime Minister Dr. Ali Zidan has announced that Libya and Egypt will establish consulates in Salloum and Tobruk respectively. The announcement was made in Cairo during the PM's visit to Egypt on the 8th of March 2013.

  • Of course, the story has another dimension. The local Egyptians living near the border are related to the Libyan tribes living in Cyrenaica by the Libyan border. During Gaddafi's reign, the Egyptians required visa to enter Libya except those living by the border. But the current Libyan transitional government re-introduced the visa without exception. This apparently has angered the local Egyptians, even though the same procedure applies to all Libyans and to all other nationals, and even though Local Egyptians were reportedly implicated in illegal cross-border trade, and according to many eyewitnesses, it is Awald Ben Ali who are smuggling weapons across the Libyan border.

  • According to LANA, 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, after weeks of violence along the border and at the Libyan embassy in Cairo, 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].

  • Wazin-Dehiba: the border crossing was temporarily closed on the 10th of March 2013, after clashes broke out between Libyans and Tunisian "traders", reportedly in relation to smuggling and lucrative cross-border trade [18].

  • The Libyan Foreign Ministry was reported by Solidarity Press to have barred visitors who cary Iranian visa in their passports from entering Libya [3]. New Quryna initially reported the Lebanese newspaper Alakhbar to have said that the Libyan authorities have informed the Lebanese foreign ministry of their decision, and that the UN's envoy to Libya, Tarik Metri, said the Libyan authorities banned specific employees (requested by the UN to work in Libya) due to their background. But New Quryna [4] later said that the UN envoy denied he made the announcement attributed to him by Alakhbar in relation to Libya barring Lebanese nationals who had Iranian visas from entering Libya.

References:

  1. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/13489/رئيس_قسم_العلاقات_والتعاون_بمصلحة_الجوازات_والجنسية_يعلن_عن_إنشاء_منظومة_تعنى_بتوثيق_حركة_دخول_وخروج_الأجانب_لليبيا
  2. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/13499/وكيل_وزارة_العمل_والتأهيل_في_الحكومة_المؤقتة_يعلن_عن_إيقاف_إلاجراءات_المتعلقة_باستجلاب_العمالة_الأجنبية_إلى_ليبيا
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  4. qurynanew.com/48734
  5. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/13930/اجتماع_مشترك_بين_الجانبين_الليبي_والمصري_بمنفذ_امساعد
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  11. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/31/in-a-few-weeks-security-will-be-fine-and-companies-will-be-back-prime-minister-ali-zeidan/
  12. Libya Herald, article: /2013/02/21/protestors-forced-out-of-congress-attempt-to-besiege-pms-office/
  13. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/15729/إصابة_ثلاثة_عناصر_أمن_خلال_محاولتهم_إخلاء_مقر_المؤتمر_الوطني_العام_من_الجرحى_المعتصمين_داخله
  14. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/16150/عودة_الحركة_الطبيعية_بمنفذ_امساعد_البري
  15. Libya Herald, article: /2013/03/07/interpol-database-passport-checks-start-at-tripoli-airport/
  16. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/16307/وزيرة_السياحة_تجتمع_ببنغازي_بعدد_من_مدراء_الشركات_والمكاتب_السياحية_بالمنطقة_الشرقية
  17. Libya Herald, article: /2013/03/11/tunisian-libyan-southern-border-crossing-closed-following-clashes/).
  18. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/18349/وزارة_الداخلية_تنصح_المواطنين_بعدم_السفر_إلى_مصر_عبر_الطريق_البري
  19. qurynanew.com/50526
  20. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/18250/المجلس_المحلي_بنغازي_يستنكر_حادثة_الاعتداء_على_عائلة_بريطانية_في_بنغازي
  21. Libya Herald, article: /2013/03/28/kidnap-and-sexual-assault-of-aid-convoy-britons-in-benghazi/
  22. presssolidarity.net/البوابات-الأمنية-بوابات-بلا-تفتيش-وعم/
  23. Libya Herald, article: /2013/04/16/congress-committee-on-antiquities-and-tourism-meets/
  24. reuters.com/article/2013/05/20/uk-kharafi-libya-idUKBRE94J06C20130520
  25. Libya Herald, article: /2013/05/22/libya-told-to-pay-kuwaiti-group-1-billion-for-90-years-earnings-loss-on-scrapped-tourism-project/
  26. Libya Herald, article: /2013/03/05/chinese-delegation-arrives-to-discuss-resuming-work-and-war-compensation/

 

 

 
     
 

Land Borders Temporarily Closed:

Both land borders with Egypt and Tunisia will be closed between the 14th and the 18th of February 2013, in preparations for the 17th of February second anniversary. International flights to Sabha and Abreq airports will be suspend temporarily, but all traffic through Tripoli, Benghazi and Mesratha airports will continue as normal [1].

[1] lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/14097/مصلحة_الطيران_المدني_بوزارة_المواصلات_والنقل_تعلن_أن_الحركة_الجوية_سوف_تستمر_بصورة_طبيعية_في_المنافذ_الجوية_العاملة_في_ليبيا

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (13):

27 January 2013

  • The spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Magdi al-Arafi, was reported to have announced that the land border with Egypt will be closed for all foreigners, except Egyptian nationals. Foreign nationals who have entry visa to Libya must now travel to Libya by air [1].

  • The Ministry of Interior was also reported to have decided on the 22nd of January 2013 that all foreign visitors to Libya now require Libyan entry visa, without exception, including Tunisian and Turkish nationals who previously did not require visa. [2]. All work applications submitted by Libyan companies will now have to be submitted to the Interior Ministry for approval and identification, as well as to determine if such workers are in actual terms "needed" in the country.

  • The official website of the Ministry of Interior (moi.gov.ly/) does not seem to provide any news regarding this matter (as of the 27th of January 2013), and government officials are yet to confirm the reasons for the sudden decision. It was reported however that the decision was intended to tighten security measures against organised trafficking in "human beings" and illegal cross-border "culture". New Quryna [3] has speculated the unconfirmed rumours that some "Syrians and Iranians" were implicated in spreading "Shia" in Libya, after undisclosed number of Syrian and Iranian nationals were arrested with fake passports.

  • Coming just a few weeks before the February anniversary, the sudden decision may well come as a precaution to prepare for a peaceful celebration. Two days later, violence broke out in Egypt to celebrate the 25th of January revolution, which many Egyptians say has failed to deliver their expectations and even called for a second revolution. With many Libyans feeling about the same, talking about a second no-fly zone (and all that), the precaution is necessary; but leaving the border open for Egyptian nationals may not necessarily prevent any of the aforementioned speculations and other agendas many aggressively push towards the stricken Sahara.

  • Benghazi: two days later, on the 24th of January 2013, Germany Netherlands and England urged all their diplomats and nationals to leave Benghazi immediately – the "free Benghazi" of the Western leaders who visited the eastern spark of the uprising after the war came to an end; for which unfortunately only the Libyans now seemingly suffer the blame.

  • Reuters has said that the German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that "The warning was made because of a series of bits of information", which he declined to reveal because "security is the most important thing" [4]. The stability of Libya and the security of the Libyans themselves beg for such "information" to be shared with the Libyan authority and, if transparency is what they claim, with people overall.

  • Devastated Libyan Interior Ministry was flabbergasted when it was reported by LANA to have not received any notification from the British Foreign Office (FCO); and its humble request for an "explanation" from the British Embassy was met with no answers [5]. The deputy interior minister for security affairs was also astonished by the allies' decision when he suggested the British could have withdrew their nationals discreetly without creating such  "unjustifiable" provocation [6].

  • According to Libya Herald, however, the British embassy felt it was not "an over-reaction" [5]; even though Air Malta was reported elsewhere to have cancelled its scheduled flights to Benghazi in response to the "advice" given by the British FCO. Regarding the sensitive bits of information, it was reported by Libya Herald, five days later (on the 27th of January 2013), that the British Ambassador Michael Aron has said that "the Libyan government . . . [has] the same information that we do”; and that “We understand that the majority in Libya and Benghazi are against terrorism" [9]. This confirms that according to British "understanding" there is an unspecified minority in Libya that is not against terrorism!

  • On the 27th of January 2013, Reuters reported the threat is targeting specific Westerners, when it wrote: "Al Qaeda is plotting to kidnap German and British citizens in Libya, the Spiegel weekly magazine quoted German intelligence sources [BND] as saying" [12]. On the 28th of January 2013, the British Foreign Office had announced that its embassy in Tripoli may face a terrorist attack [13 ].

  • Italy has already withdrew its diplomatic staff from Benghazi last week, after its consul was reported to have been attacked but was unhurt. Spain on the other hand had advised its nationals in Algeria to be "vigilant" when venturing outdoors; with Australia urging its community not to fight in Syria neither for nor against the "Lion"; and with Japan closing its embassy in Mali.



Summary:

    • Tourist visa still is suspended.
    • Transit visa still is suspended.
    • Business visa on arrival is now (said to be) available only from the embassy.

    • Tripoli airport remains open to foreign nationals, with Benghazi airport remaining an optional risk, with the Libyan government stating that security measures are implemented in the city.

    • Land border with Egypt is closed for all foreigners except Egyptian nationals.

    • Unpredictable land border with Tunisia remained open only for Libyans and Tunisians (once proper documentation is provided), until the 27th of January 2013, when LANA [8] reported that the border is now open for travellers in both directions, once more. 

    • Southern borders are closed after declaring the region a military zone, with prime minister Zidan is out to blast outlaws exploiting Libya's fragile and unfolding tragedy.

    • Security remains a (predictable) consequence, rather than an issue, ever since the presumed liberation was declared prematurely while homes were still being shelled.

    • Road accidents are on the increase.

    • Crime and corruption are sky rocketing, with shoulder rockets rather than with tiny pistols, with some branches, according to Libya Herald and others, rising by nearly 500%, such as theft and murder [7]; as well as financial corruption, officially blamed for admitted "lack of bureaucracy".

    • Libyan leaders however are unable to secure the country, draft a constitution, build a government, reinstate the army, form a police force, or establish security. On the 31st of January 2013 the Libyan prime minister Dr. Ali Zidan told Libya Herald that, “the phrase lack of security is wrong. If there was no security we would not be here now. But I want to assure you that in a few weeks security will be fine and companies will be back” [14].

    • On the 31st of January 2013 the international media was heard for the first time to use the phrase, "the frontline is being moved from Afghanistan to North Africa" – a frightening concept to come to terms with, after having suffered for 42 years from imposed tyranny.




    References:

  1. lana-news.ly/Para/news/view/12055/وزارة_الداخلية_تصدر_تعميما_يقضي_بمنع_دخول_الأجانب_للأراضي_الليبية_عبر_منفذ_أمساعد_البري_وتستثني_حاملي_الجنسية_المصرية
  2. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/23/major-visa-changes-planned-tunisians-turks-and-jordanians-will-be-affected/
  3. qurynanew.com/48039
  4. reuters.com/article/2013/01/24/us-britain-benghazi-threat-idUSBRE90N0JM20130124
  5. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/24/quit-benghazi-advice-is-overreaction
  6. presssolidarity.net/وكيل-وزارة-الداخلية-التحذير-البريطان
  7. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/09/murder-rate-up-500-in-two-years
  8. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/12413/إعادة_افتتاح_المنفذ_الحدودي_رأس_اجدير_أمام_حركة_المسافرين_في_الاتجاهين
  9. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/27/british-ambassador-explains-decision-to-withdraw-from-benghazi
  10. guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/20/david-cameron-algerian-hostage-crisis
  11. worldtribune.com/2013/01/25/western-contractors-warned-libyan-oil-facilities-are-next-al-qaida-target
  12. reuters.com/article/2013/01/27/libya-benghazi-germany-idUSL5N0AW1W520130127
  13. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/28/uk-says-its-tripoli-embassy-may-be-facing-a-terror-attack
  14. Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/31/in-a-few-weeks-security-will-be-fine-and-companies-will-be-back-prime-minister-ali-zeidan

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (12):

10 January 2013:

1: Visa:

(1.1): Tourist Visa:

Tourist visa is still suspended. Some Libyan companies are "talking" about the likelihood of the tourist visa being reinstated very soon, and although there is no official confirmation of the rumours, the Libyan minister of tourism, Ikram Imam, had revealed on the 5th of January 2013 that there will be an "adjustment" and a "simplification" of the visa and tourist procedures [1]. Let us all hope that the saga of the "Libya Visa" is simplified and adjusted to stay that way for good this time.

Upon her return to the capital, she further held a meeting with the departments of the tourism ministry from across Libya, on Monday the 7th of January 2013, to explore the means for them to commence implementing the "work plan", or the "strategy", proposed by the Tourism Ministry to the GNC.

The strategy apparently includes creating a "distinctive" tourist identity to put Libya on the map of international tourism, and to provide quality service according to the values and traditions of Libya [2]. According to Solidarity Press [3], there are 23 offices in Libya which are currently implementing the programs of the tourism ministry.


(1.2): Business Visa:

The expensive business visa is still available for those wishing to do business in Libya. However, it was reported that the number of business visas processed by the immigration authorities in Tripoli shortly after the suspension of tourist and transit visas has shot up to 200 business visas per day. As a result the authorities have introduced strict procedures to process the business visa on arrival.  By the end of 2012 it became apparent that the one-month business visa on arrival has been suspended, and now it is available only via Libyan embassies.


(1.3): Fake Visas:

History is abundant with examples of  products and services banned by the law only to proliferate underground, where corruption, greed and absence of law empowers the emerging warlords. The member of Benghazi's Local Council, Tareq Bouzriba, told Solidarity Press that the problem starts at the Libyan embassies, especially those in Egypt, Tunisia and Chad. By refusing the visa application the  embassies force workers to pay 6,000 pounds for the visa elsewhere, instead of the 50 Egyptian pounds they need to pay the embassy [6].

He also pointed out that the ease with which some Libyans secure legal permits to establish certain projects, for which they receive 6,000 Dinars from the government to cover the cost of importing 20 workers, had resulted in some Libyans setting up fictitious companies to import the workers. Since the fictitious companies do not provide any jobs for their workers after arrival in the country, the immigrants end up jobless in Libya, likewise many Libyans who were previously sidelined to live on "handouts" -- apparently not for being unemployed but for "lack of work".

The illegal network appears to involve flying out blank visas from Libya to be sold where others are ready to pay. In one of the recent incidents the Egyptian authorities arrested a Libyan passenger at Cairo Airport after arriving with 492 blank visas [7]. Another group, reported on the 26th of December 2012 to have been arrested by the Supreme Security Committee (SSC), appears to have made a copy of the official "plate seal" and also copies of the stamps used to approve Libyan visa approvals [8].

On the 24th of October 2012 three Libyans were arrested with 684 fake passports  in Bangladesh [9]. Three African women were arrested in Tripoli on the 3rd of January 2013 for possessing a fake Ministry of Health "stamp", used to issue forged "health certificates", required by immigrants in order to enter Libya [10]. And on the 8th of January 2013, LANA reported that an armed group attacked the "Work & Training Bureau" in Ejmeil and stole the official stamp of the bureau, after intimidating staff [21].

Rivalry between Manpower Agencies and other unknown groups competing for the inflicted chaos has also resulted in a number of reported scams, some of which had attempted to implicate the Libyan consulate in the illegal trade; eventually leading the Libyan government to stop issuing visas to Bangladeshi workers from Tuesday the 4th of December 2012 [11]. To further tighten security, the immigration department has announced it will create a new branch inside Tripoli Airport itself.

Strict procedures were also applied to Egyptian applications, and according to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Egyptian nationals were warned not to enter Libya without a visa or without a passport, due to "the risk of road accidents, “which has resulted in the deaths of a number of Egyptians recently” [12].


(1.4): Work Visa:

The chaos of work visa and the illegal trade in migrants has resulted in a number of incidents and border clashes with slave bandits trafficking in African and Arab migrants from all sides of Libya. The most bizarre story we have come across is the story of "Sudanese For Sale". On the 30th of August 2012 al-Ahram revealed details of the "Hell-Journey" undertaken by Sudanese get-rich "dreamers", and operated by armed-groups who sell their lured victims in a market reminiscent of medieval "slave markets". The disturbing report then continues by saying that the "slaves" were displayed in the market for the buyers to select for the mere price of 150 Libyan Dinars, and that the "bought-slaves" end up working all day without getting paid [4].

Presumably many of the illegal immigrants would stay and work in Libya, while others will ultimately continue their adventure to Europe across the Libyan sea, with some drowning in the way, and with some being left to drown in the sea.

It was also reported that many of them have returned home according to their own will; while according to the latest statistics from the Libyan committee for the prevention of illegal immigrants the number of illegal immigrants deported so far during the second half of 2012 is 13,100 immigrants, including 2813 from Niger, 4583 Egyptians, 1007 Sudanese, and 4052 other Africans, while surprisingly only 23 immigrants were deported to Tunisia [5].

 

2: Land Borders:

The land borders of Libya have been hit with "frequent closures" and the occasional "trouble" ever since liberation day. Each "closure" seems to have a different reason including transporting vehicles across both borders without any documentation; transportation of humans without ID's or passports; clashes over personal and social matters; and trafficking in alcohol, narcotics, petrol and weapons as well as in outdated and poisoned food. In conclusion, it is impossible to predict what will happen next, or when the borders will re-turn to their pre-war state – or shall we say: pre-UN-protection state!

(2.1): Western Borders: Ras Ejdir:

The Ras Ejdir border has been through quite a number of closures in the past 14 months, the last of which has ended on the 10th of December 2012, when the border was reopened once more. The border was closed again on the 13th of December 2012, only to be partially re-opened on the 15th of December 2012.

After his meeting with the Tunisian Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, on Monday the 7th of January 2013, the Libyan Prime Minister Dr. Ali Zidan had ordered the border to be fully re-opened. The earlier partial closure was applicable only to lorry and truck drivers. However, according to Radio Tataouine [20], violence continues in Bengerdan – a Tunisian village close to the Libyan border, for the third day running, and that the border is still closed as of the 8th of January 2013 despite the aforementioned decision to re-open the border by the Libyan PM.

Initially the road was closed from the Tunisian side to prevent Libyans passing through, and there were reports of Libyans being attacked and "robbed" of their belongings. The attacks followed strict border controls that were applied by the Libyan authorities to cross-border trade. Apparently some lorry and truck drivers wanted to operate freely without paying any attention to health regulations concerning food importation, and without paying any custom duties. 

On the 21st of November 2012, the forces of Libya Shield had arrested an armed group stationed at a fake check point between Ras Ejdir and Zuwarah, near Zulthen (not to be confused with Zliten); stopping foreign visitors and Libyans and confiscating their passports and personal belongings. The Libya Shield was alerted when one Libyan telephoned the forces to verify the legality of the check point [13].

(2.2): Eastern Borders: Musaid:

The situation at the other end of the coastal highway is not much different. On the 17th of December 2012 the Egyptian government closed its border with Libya after a confrontation between locals and Egyptian police. Seven people were injured in this latest incident. The reason, apparently, is the same as the reason causing the trouble at Ras Ejdir border with Tunisia, namely the refusal to pay the custom duties required from cross-border traders. The traders were reported to have attacked the Egyptian police with stones, leading to the latter retaliating with tear gas [14]. Attacks on Libyan drivers inside the Egyptian border were also reported a number of times. The Libyan border point itself came under attack several times including being shot-at by "arms" criminals and "human" traffickers. Land travellers using the long road from Tobruk to Ejdabiyah are warned to take extra care or to avoid the road altogether, as Solidarity Press reported [15] that the Libyan authority had arrested two members of a gang which was carrying out armed attacks  along the Tobruk-Ejdabiyah road.

(2.3): Southern Borders: Fezzan:

The transitional government had declared south Libya a "military zone" and temporarily closed its borders with Sudan, Niger, Chad and Algeria. (See below for more on this.)

 

3: Safety:

Generally speaking Libya is far more safer for visitors than it is for Libyans, and it would appear that the government has what it calls a "plan" for 2013 to state its authority and exert control over the country. As it stands, Ghadames and Nafusa, as well as Sabratha, Tripoli and Leptis Magna should be Okay to visit; but Cyrenaica and the Sahara are definitely not recommended.

(3.1): General Safety:

Still without a constitution and without an elected president, an army or an effective police force, the situation remains "fluid" and "unpredictable". So far three transitional governments had exchanged seats and shook hands for the responsibility they stepped forward to take, and yet Libya is to see the promised prosperity or the illusive and all inclusive peace.

It has now been more than fourteen months since the presumed liberation of Libya and yet there is no sign of law or order taking place; just the usual "leaders" and the "people" blaming each other for their mistakes, and for the chaos, violence and corruption flourishing before their eyes while suspended in a state which the Libyans call الإنفلات الأمنى ('total-failure & collapse of security').

According to Libya Herald, Danish Trade and Investment Minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr, "has challenged traditional stereotypes of Libya as a hostile environment for foreign businesses, saying that Tripoli is no more dangerous than Tunis" [16]. She was also reported by the same source to have thought that, "there is a different picture" in her country’s media to the reality in Libya. Whereas according to Tripoli's Security Directorate, foreign companies are unwilling to return to Libya to complete their programs due to the spread of chaos [17].

Of course, Tripoli is no more dangerous than Tunis, but Libya is not just "Tripoli"; and in fact that is the whole point the Libyans are trying to make across Cyrenaica and the Sahara. No doubt, progress was (being) made, but the slightly improved security in Tripoli, the seat of all 'decisions' and power, has witnessed an increase in violence in Cyrenaica -- the region seemingly being punished for attempting to share power with the capital; while Fezzan has been declared a "military zone" by the leaders of "liberated" Tripoli in December 2012, when at last the transitional prime minister gave the stark warning to "blast" outlaws taking advantage of Libya's tragedy along the southern borders [18].

To further bolster Libya's authority, on the 25th of December 2012, the Ministry of Interior's spokesman, Mr Majdi Alerfi, had revealed his ministry's "plan" to dismantle illegal militias and withdraw heavy weapons from the streets of  Libya [19]. Similar pledges have been heard before, and it is more likely they will be heard again.


References:

  • [01]: presssolidarity.net/باشا-إمام-تعقد-اجتماعا-مع-أصحاب-الشركا/
  • [02]: facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.470429562993101.97717.413549328681125&type=1
  • [03]: presssolidarity.net/باشا-إمام-تجتمع-بمديري-المكاتب-السياح/
  • [04]: gate.ahram.org.eg/News/245685.aspx
  • [05]: presssolidarity.net/إدارة-الهجرة-ترحل-13100-مهاجر-خلال-النصف-ا/
  • [06]: presssolidarity.net/بوزريبة-مشاكل-العمالة-في-ليبيا-تبدءا-م/
  • [07]: presssolidarity.net/ضبط-راكب-ليبي-بحوزته-492-تأشيرة-دخول-ليبي//
  • [08]: Libya Herald, article: /2012/12/26/ssc-arrests-passport-counterfeiters/
  • [09]: Libya Herald, article: /2012/10/24/three-libyans-arrested-in-dhaka-with-684-fake-passports/
  • [10]: presssolidarity.net/إدارة-الهجرة-تقبض-على-افريقيات-يقمن-بت/
  • [11]: newstoday.com.bd/index.php?option=details&news_id=2330144&date=2012-11-29
  • [12]: dailynewsegypt.com/2012/12/19/egyptians-urged-not-ot-travel-to-libya-illegally/
  • [13]: presssolidarity.net/درع-ليبيا-قسم-بوابات-الساحل-الغربي-تضب/
  • [14]: presssolidarity.net/السلطات-المصرية-توقف-عمل-منفذ-السلوم/
  • [15]: presssolidarity.net/القبض-على-عصابة-تقوم-بأعمال-قطع-طريق-بي/
  • [16]: Libya Herald, article: /2012/11/22/tripoli-no-more-dangerous-than-tunis-says-danish-government-minister/
  • [17]: (Libya Herald, article: /2
  • [18]: youtube.nocookie.com/v/7ghPXUpxOkk?hl=en_GB&version=3&rel=0"
  • [19]: lana-news.ly/ar/art.php?a=31838012/12/26/ministry-of-interior-preparing-plan-for-weapons-withdrawal-and-dismantling-of-illegal-battalions/
  • [20]: www1.radiotunisienne.tn/tataouine/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8172:2013-01-08-19-05-16&catid=190:2012-07-26-08-24-50
  • [21]: lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/10735/العاملون_بمكتب_العمل_والتأهيل_بمدينة_الجميل_يعلقون_العمل_حتى_اشعار_أخر_بعد_قيام_مجموعة_مسلحة_بالهجوم_عليهم
  • [22]: presssolidarity.net/المؤتمر-الوطني-يقرر-تشكيل-قوة-أمنية-تت/
  • [23]: Libya Herald, article: /2013/01/02/first-deputy-head-of-gnc-condemns-sscs-demonstration-tactics-as-unreasonable/
  • [24]: presssolidarity.net/الاعتداء-بالضرب-على-عضوي-المؤتمر-الوط/

 

 

 
 


Libyan Air Force Is Out At Last To Blast Outlaws:

21 December 2012:

 

 

The GNC declared south Libya a "military zone" and temporarily closed its borders with Sudan, Niger, Chad and Algeria. The move came two days after the PM Ali Zidan arrived from his tour of Algeria, Chad, Niger and Sudan [1]. On the 19th of December 2012 the Libyan News Agency reported that Ali Zidan informed the GNC of his preparations to send forces to the south and to appoint a "Military Governor" for the military zone. He also advised locals to steer away from the border areas that are not permissible by law [4], otherwise they will be "blasted" by the Libyan Air Force [5]. The PM's stark warning was cheered and applauded by a number of the GNC's present members.

By the 19th of December, the Libyan News Agency LANA [2] had reported that Kufra's military commander, Colonel Miftah Alabdali, said Libyan Air Force was already combing the area along the Chadian and the southern Egyptian borders. It was also reported that at least one suspected camp was blasted on Tuesday morning.

Border problems all over Libya were known from day one of Liberation, but apparently both the NTC and el-Keib's governments were "powerless" to effect a full solution to the issue. At last after 14 months of local complaints, the Prime Minister Ali Zidan had promised the Berber Tuareg that securing the borders and resolving the Daraj disaster would be among his government's priorities, when he met with Tuareg representatives from all over Libya on the 27th of November 2012.

But on the 6th of December 2012 at least 20 Fezzani members of the GNC had suspended their membership in a protest about the deteriorating security in Fezzan, and even accused the Ministry of Defence and the GNC of not responding to their proposed plan which calls for the resignation of the military commander of the southern area, Abdurrahman Athawil, and the commander of the "operations room", Wanis Bokhmadah [3].

Even security officials working for the transitional government accused the ministries of defence and interior of negligence after they failed to provide support for the fighting units in Sabha, during the clashes at Brak Ashathi in September 2012. When the government security forces returned to Tripoli they surrounded the Roxis Hotel and threatened to "blow up" the hotel unless their demands to meet with the minister of Interior, Fawzi Abdulal, and the minister of defence, Osama Ajwaili, were met. The returned security forces wanted to know why their demands for support and aid were ignored [8].

The decision to declare the area a military zone has angered a number of Tuareg leaders, and according to the head of the Amazigh World Congress, Fathi Benkhlifa, Benghazi could be more deserving of such militarisation [6]. There are far more dangerous developments still taking place in Cyrenaica and along the Musaid border with Egypt which are damaging to Libya's reputation and which could or otherwise would derail the revolution.

Therefore the question to ask is why does not the Libyan Air Force exercise its muscle along the eastern and western borders as well as inside Libya itself? And why declare the whole region a military zone when the matter seemingly is no more than border patrol?

The Libyans of the south on the other hand had never resorted to shutting down oil fields or water or power supplies or public roads just to demand scholarship for their revolutionaries, unpaid wages, or urgent medical treatment abroad for their wounded, or even semi-autonomy at home just to provide food and shelter for their own impoverished and war-torn people. And they had burnt no embassies nor blew up any government offices or assassinated scores of Libyans as is the norm in Cyrenaica. Instead they say they are still waiting patiently for  the government to do the right thing, and that their impoverished region was hijacked by foreign elements to traffic in humans, arms, drugs and other 'contrabanda' agendas under the eyes of the government ever since the presumed and premature liberation of Libya.

On the following day, the 20th of December 2012, the president of the GNC, Dr. Magarief, met with Tuareg leaders in Tripoli and, according to Solidarity Press, he promised to resolve all their problems [7]. This sounds very promising, but the source failed to say when the promise will be fulfilled or how the GNC's president could have the "magic wand" to re-solve "all the Tuareg's problems"!

Many Berber Tuareg, Tebu and Arab tribes in Fezzan still live in tattered huts and palm-frond shelters in extreme poverty, beneath the scorching heat of the Sahara's sun, and without any of the air-conditions and the other signs of the luxury others enjoy along the shores of Tripoli and at the 5-star Rixos Hotel.

It is impossible to imagine these "mere hamlets" live in rich Libya today, let alone in free Libya now; as much as it is possible to perceive Libya itself does not exist beyond the boundaries of Tripoli – except that Benghazi is seemingly being punished for trying to take a share of that "policy".

On the 21st of December 2012 a relief convoy left Zuwarah for the south, carrying food, medical supplies, clothing and blankets -- the good, old Libyan spirit: the people are helping each other, while the leaders are blaming them for their mistakes and even for the acts committed by others.

Sources:

[1]: Libya Herald, article: /2012/12/17/gnc-announces-temporary-closure-of-southern-borders-and-declares-south-a-closed-military-zone
[2]: lana-news.ly/ar/art.php?a=31208
[3]: presssolidarity.net/نواب-المؤتمر-الوطني-عن-سبها-يعلقون-عضو
[4]: lana-news.ly/ar/art.php?a=31295
[5]: youtube.nocookie.com/v/7ghPXUpxOkk?hl=en_GB&version=3&rel=0"
[6]: ossanlibya.org/?p=30417
[7]: presssolidarity.net/المقريف-يعد-طوارق-ليبيا-بحل-جميع-مشاكل
[8]: presssolidarity.net/قوات-من-اللجنة-الأمنية-تحاصر-فندق-ريكس

 

 
 

 

 

Libyan Visa Update (11):

5 July 2012:

Unexpected development: on the 4th of July 2012 the Director General of the Immigration Department in Tripoli has stopped approving visa applications submitted by Libyan companies. There is no official statement regarding this matter. It is not exactly known why this sudden suspension of visa -- coming a few weeks after it was re-opened, and just three days before the elections.

This means that all our tourist and transit visa services are suspended, once more.

 

 

 
 

 

 

Libyan Visa Update (10):

3 July 2012:

The main focus of this update is "safety". But before we go into that, we start with a quick round up of the visa news.

  • Tourist visas are still being issued, but mainly for arrival at Tripoli Airport, and do not allow arrival via any of the two land borders.

  • Transit visas are still being issued, but only for arrival at the Egyptian border. On the 30th of June 2012 Emsaad border was temporarily closed by security officials due to clashes with smugglers. An official from the security department said they closed the border as a protest to attract the attention of the transitional government, which he says is not doing enough to secure the border area. One official was injured when he was shot at by arms smugglers and human traffickers. Five days later, Libyaherald reported that Colonel Sulaiman Hasan Bortima, from the borders control department in Benghazi, was assassinated on Wednesday the 4th of July.

  • The Tunisian border at Ras Ejdir is currently unavailable for tourist or transit visa holders, but it is okay for exiting for those who entered Libya via Egypt. If somehow you have secured your visa (with entry via Ras Ejdir), you may not be able to bring your vehicle into Libya, due to the fact that the Tunisian authorities currently (June 2012) do not allow any foreign vehicles to cross towards Ras Ejdir. As an alternative route you can try entry via Dhiba border point, but nothing is guaranteed, and you might not be able to return to Tunisia once you cross over to the Libyan border point (only to find yourself denied entry to Libya).

  • There are also some improvements in safety along the road to Nafusa Mountain and Ghadames, but the recent events in and around Zintan and Mezda make travel to Nafusa not recommended. There are also good news regarding desert sites in Fezzan, like the lakes and Acacus, in that the national army was reported to have taken over all the check points in the desert region including Sabha airport. The Kufra area appears to be still locked in (imposed) war with local tribes and government militias and therefore remains a no-go area.

Safety Update:

There are a number of worrying reports as well as  some rumours that leave one unable to form an accurate picture as to how safe it is for foreign travellers to visit Libya. We believe it is important to provide enough information about all aspects of life in Libya including its chaotic politics, regardless of what government sources say; and we have been reporting most of the incidents, clashes and terror activities that took place since the end of UN military operations in Libya.

The first point to clarify is that many reporters and bloggers mix whatever is happening in Libya in one "pot", without any attempt to separate fact from fiction or politics from tourism. Some travellers did report the case of the ICC's lawyer as an example for the danger foreign nationals currently face in Libya, but it must be noted that her case was a "political" case, allegedly involving espionage, and therefore is irrelevant to the issue of travel. Ahmed al-Jehani, Libya's delegation at the ICC, told Michael Vincent that she will be released by today (03/07/2012), but she will not be welcomed back into the country. He also said he was a witness when she handed over the documents to Saifalislam (abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3537317.htm).

The people of Libya are friendly, always helpful, and as we have reported earlier there was hardly any incident in which a foreign traveller was harmed. Before the war, Greenland and Libya were considered amongst the safest countries in the world. And after the war, many visitors who visited Libya in the past few months (May and June 2012) were very happy to report  they were greeted everywhere with a smile and handshake, and even some were given free petrol wherever they went.

However, there are a number of disturbing cases of expatriates living in Libya being attacked and had their vehicles stolen by armed men, and it is these kinds of attacks that are worrying, as we shall see below. The new problem in today's Libya is the emergence of  armed "mystery cells" and unknown "terror groups" that began attacking both government and foreign targets including diplomats and expatriates, without any of these groups having any public support. For a list and more details on incidents of violence, please refer to (february17.htm)


Danger Zones Along the Libyan coast:

The road from Tunisia to Egypt can be divided into three sections:

  1. Ras Ejdir – Mesratha.
  2. Sirte – Ejdabiyah.
  3. Benghazi – Emsaad.

(1) –

The first section of the road is generally safe, and there are no problems reported in terms of safety. The only resurfacing issue in this section is Ras Ejdir itself. After the violent events of April 2012 in the Black Crescent area, the government said it had taken control of the border area and that it will implement a final solution to the crisis in the region, but there is no sign of this taking place as of June 2012.  Loyalists and smuggling gangs from all surrounding areas (in both sides of the border) still are active, with one convoy of three vehicles being blasted from the air by Tunisian fighter jets on the 20th of June 2012. According to a recent announcement by the Tunisian government the Libyan embassy was communicating with the Tunisian Ministry of Interior regarding the activities of some Libyans living in and around Bengerdan, Djerba and Zarzis. The Tunisian source also said that more than 500,000 Libyans are now living in Tunisia, many of whom are loyal to the old regime. Depending on the level of security to be implemented by the transitional government of Libya, the loyalists may pose a threat in the months ahead.

(2) -

The second section, from Mesratha to Benghazi, is also Okay, but if you will encounter any trouble then it is more likely it would be somewhere along this road. There were a number of clashes in and around Sirte in the past few months, forcing a number of foreign workers to leave the area, when Sirte's Military Council was reported to have had ordered a number of NGO groups involved in "demining" operations  to leave the area.  According to the Interior Ministry, only unregistered and illegal NGO's operating in Libya were ordered to leave, to safeguard the interests of Libya, especially so when many of these workers were x-military personnel. 

However, according to our knowledge there were no reports of any travellers or foreign visitors being harmed in any way -- (if you know of anything to negate this statement, please let us know). The road itself is still in good condition and frequented with check points. One of these check points was destroyed in clashes between rival groups. None of our visitors had reported any issues along this road, so far, and according to one feedback, the road blocks "were manned by gentlemen, who were only too keen to ensure our wellbeing". Many of our visitors completed this section of the road in one day, with one British couple completing the journey from Cyrene to Mesratha in 14 hours. Venturing offroad along this section is risky, due to unexploded munition, buried landmines, metal wreckage, pulverised tanks, and rocket shells strewn along the roadside.

(3) –

The third section of the coastal road, Benghazi – Emsaad, is generally safe to cross, and there were no issues reported by travellers so far. The only area to avoid is around Derna, where one issue last month prompted our guide to seek local assistance to escort one of our groups to Benghazi, and therefore historically speaking this was our first tour in which an armed convoy was used to escort our visitors across Cyrenaica.

 

 

a wheelbarrow gun

Made by Mesratha's "Revolutionaries of The Central Workshop".

 

Overall Advice:

Libyans will not harm their guests and will do all they can to help. All our visitors who came back to us with feedback were very pleased. But who is to say that the newly formed "mystery cells" will abide by the same "Libyan" tradition! Travel to Libya for the time being must be classified under "adventure travel", the definition of which involves taking risks.

End of update (10).

 

 

 
 

 

Armed Assailants Attempted to Takeover The Building of The Tourism Department:

26 June 2012:

meeting of libyan tourism department

The Libyan Tourism Department held an emergency meeting on the 25th of June 2012, to discuss the current issues facing the department under the transitional government. Earlier in the week the building of the department was raided by a group of 40 people, 20 of whom were armed, in an attempt to take over the building. The armed group presented a letter, allegedly signed by the deputy defence minister, authorising them to use "force" to evacuate and take over the building. The employees of the tourism department defended their headquarters and refused to leave. When the minister arrived later, he informed the employees that he had no knowledge of the authorisation. The assailants failed to intimidate the staff and left shortly afterwards.

The meeting was held to clarify the incident and discuss a number of important issues facing the tourism department in current Libya. To this day Libya still does not have a tourism ministry, despite Libya's massive tourism heritage  and in spite of the potential of tourism becoming Libya's main source of income in the future. The department made a number of legitimate demands including:

  • Implementing "transparency" requirements by all the managers and heads of departments at the Tourism Department.
  • Freezing all the procedures of the managers and the heads of departments at the Tourism Department.
  • Initiating an enquiry regarding the spending of "budgets" during the "revolution".
  • Investigating the department's officials for "squandering the general wealth".
  • Investigating all the previous contracts struck in the past.

Temehu Tourism Services.

 

 

 
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (9):

08 May 2012:

(1)

The majority of the enquiries we have received after our last update were mainly concerned with the "compulsory guide", and so we thought it would be a good idea to clarify some points regarding this issue.

Without a doubt the guide does provide assistance with route finding, language, information about Libya and the Libyan way of life, handling disagreements that might arise in dealing with "some" locals, and of course, the current uncertainty effected by the war may also add another reason for the guide's services being used for the time being.

But having said this, we do understand the restrictions associated with the guide imposed by the previous government, and we sincerely hope the new transitional rulers will abolish this requirement, or at least recommend it to the forthcoming permanent government, to allow Libya's visitors the freedom they enjoy worldwide and to encourage free tourism in Libya.

Due to the fact that many of our visitors specifically request from us to include a guide in their itineraries, while others are clearly distressed by having to waste so much money just to "violate their privacy", it seems quite reasonable to abolish the compulsory status of the guide and instead have it as an option travellers can choose.

Conclusion:

We have contacted the immigration authorities in Tripoli regarding this matter. So far they have not issued any official decree regarding the previous "compulsory" guide requirement, but we were given verbal confirmation that this matter is now "discretionary". As a result, we are not including this service until it has been officially decreed by the concerned authorities in the capital, or unless specifically requested by our visitors. However, please keep in mind that if new regulations are issued by the tourism department before your arrival date, which we will publish here if and when they become available, you will be notified accordingly of the recalculated cost.

Fake Visas:

Another ring, consisting of one Libyan and one Egyptian, was arrested in Cairo for possessing 15 passports stamped with Libyan "blank work visas", visa forms, and a sum of cash. The fake visas were said to cost "several thousand pounds" each.

Airports:

Ghadames Airport: was officially declared open on the 5th of May 2012, and according to the spokesman of the transitional government, it has been agreed that the previous two weekly flights between Tripoli and Ghadames will resume full service. Tobruk & Alabrek Airports: both were officially announced in late April 2012 to reopen in May. It was also reported that Alburaq Air has doubled its flights between Alabrek and Tripoli to four flights. This means that all the main airports in Libya are now back to normal. On the 1st of May 2012 the first British Airways flight since the war had touched down at Tripoli Airport.

The Ministry of Communications and Transport Points Out The Importance of Tourism:

The strategy to create a solid alternative to oil and gas as primary sources of income was established by Gaddafi's government in the 1990s, and it looks set the new transitional government will continue the program, as stated by the transitional minister Yousef Weheshy, who stressed that tourism issues are now a priority, and called for all Libyans to assist tourism agencies with all they can to market tourism.

End of Update (9).

 

 

 
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (8):

22 April 2012:

(1)

Visas:

Tourist Visa: good news: the new "Tourism Department" in Tripoli has confirmed that "tourist visas" are back. However, the reopened visa will be granted only for tourists who intend to travel along the coast  for the purpose of tourism. Southern destinations are still closed and therefore Nafusa Mountain and Ghadames remain unavailable for the time being. The procedure for tourist visa stays the same as before (see our tourist visa page for details). The overall situation is improving steadily, and as we have reported in our last update there were hardly any reports of tourists or foreign visitors being harmed by Libyans. Having said this, it seems possible that clashes between rival militias and loyalists could erupt anytime and at any place; and therefore all visitors are advised to check with their insurance providers to make sure they are fully covered when it comes to visiting areas considered as "war zones".

Business visa is still being issued.

Transit visa is still being issued.

Work & Fake Visas: with the backlog of work visa applications at the Libyan embassy in Cairo and with applicants camping outside the embassy in the hope of securing a work visa to Libya, criminals in Cairo had attempted to cash in by issuing fake visas. The Egyptian immigration had intercepted one such visa at Cairo Airport on the 19th of April 2012. The detained man was reported to have confessed to paying 1000 Egyptian pounds for his fake visa.  Some private companies too seem to cash in by charging Bangladeshi job-seekers up to $4,500 per job application. Some job-seekers said they had paid the fees to recruitment agencies, but officials at the Bangladeshi embassy in Tripoli were reported to have confirmed only 1,500 job applications out of nearly 15,000 applications the recruitment companies claimed to have processed for their clients. According to one Libyan source, the number of illegal immigrants who entered Cyrenaica without a visa in 2012 has now reached 1200 Arab, African and Asian immigrants. Fake Libyan passports and birth certificates, used for smuggling illegal immigrants into Libya, were also in sale in Egypt by a gang consisting of three Libyans and five Egyptians. The cell was arrested by the Egyptian authorities  on Saturday the 21st of April 2012.  Seven hundred passports, fifteen certificates and 13,000 Egyptian pounds were found at the site.

 

(2)

Airports:

Sabha Airport: according to an announcement made on the 10th of April 2012 by the Prime Minister's Office, the airport of Sabha has "reopened" for business and that all services have returned to "normal".

Tripoli Airport: finally, after nearly eight months, the control over the airport was handed over to the transitional authority on Friday the 20th of April 2012. The airport was under the control of  militia fighters from Zintan since August 2011; and now is under the control of  the interior, defence and transportation ministries.

 

 

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (7):

29 March 2012:

Visa: not much has changed since our last update, but there are a few stories to report. The first story illustrates the issue of those visitors arriving in Libya without a visa. Two British journalists, Nicholas Davies and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, were reported by AFP to have been arrested by Misratha's Swehli Militia on February 2012 for entering Libya without a visa. Apparently it was reported that they were working for Iran's English-language Press TV and were detained for "possible espionage" after being found filming at 2:00 am in a "sensitive area" in Tripoli. They were later handed over to the NTC in the capital, before they were released and flown home on the 19th of March 2012. The NTC had earlier warned both Libyans and visitors to respect the law.

The second story concerns those Libyans who wish to transit the UK on their way to another country. New British law, effective from the 3rd of April 2012, requires Libyan, Syrian and Egyptian transit visitors to apply for a Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV)
(ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2012/march/70-Syrian-Egyptian-Libyan-change).

The British government says the restriction is necessary  to protect the security of its borders. Libyans were not happy with the decision. Many Libyans who applied for American visa (including those who did so for medication purposes) were later refused USA visa, apparently for "security reasons" too, and the $400 dollars (or so) they paid in advance as fees were never refunded. On the other hand, Maltese officials at the Maltese consulate in Tripoli were reported to have had issued European visas for LD1100 -- nearly ten times the usual price 
(timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20111212/local/Bribery-claims-on-Tripoli-embassy.397973)

The third story is our favourite story: Libyan visa on a piece of paper. According to Susan Bird (see link below), she was invited to a dinner party hosted by Felix Marquardt -- apparently a businessman who advises "governments on matters that require special handling in getting the story right" -- which by itself is another kind of story. The story goes that the host asked his guests to think about one object in their lives that meant a great deal to them, and gave them ten minutes to come up with the answer. Once time was up, the host took the initiative to provide his answer: The Libyan Visa. The story does not say how or why Mr. Marquardt arrived at Tripoli Airport without a Libyan visa, but it does state that the airport officials just tore a piece of white paper, wrote his name in English and nationality in Arabic, stamped it, and stapled it to a page in his passport. "That was Felix's visa to enter Libya", Susan said.

 

libyan visa issued on a piece of paper

Libyan visa on a piece of paper.

Image source: wf360.typepad.com

The blue stamp on the right is the entry stamp (09/01/2012), and the red on the left is the exit stamp (11/01/2012). Both carry the name: "National Transitional Council, Libya" (at the top), and "Tripoli International Airport's Immigration Department" below the date.

Compare this with the following official approval obtained by Temehu on the 10th of January 2012. The visa procedure itself is the same as before, and the "transitional transit visa approval" looks almost identical to the old visa approval:

 

libyan visa approval 2012

Libyan visa approval 2012.

Issued by the "Executive Office For Internal Affairs And Local Authority", Immigration And Nationality Department Branch; 10/01/2012. The visa was issued to "Temehu Tourism Services" for the purpose of "Transit". The table lists the names of the visitors and the details of their passports' bio pages. Names and details of visitors are confidential.

 

Overall advice:

We advise against all but essential travel to Libya. Our current advice is primarily based on the fact that one is unable to predict future events, rather than on tangible danger. No doubt the  atmosphere is still "unsettled", with some fighting going on right now in and around Sabha, but the balance is gradually being tipped in favour of the law.

The reason for not allowing tourist visas, some officials say, is merely the safety issue, and therefore this issue can only be officially settled once the NTC declares Libyan civilians "protected" and Libya "safe". They had declared Libya liberated way back in October 2011, but they are yet to declare Libya "safe for all".

The world needs to know that Libyans have always respected foreign visitors, regardless of government, and they still dearly cherish this ancient Libyan tradition. For example, there are so many foreign nationals in Libya including politicians, journalists, businessmen, oil workers and travellers, and yet there was not a single incident of any of them being harmed in any way.

Conclusion:

All our services are currently suspended.

However:

  • Business visa is still being issued.
  • Transit visa is still being issued.
  • Tourist visa is still suspended.

Note:

Please check with your travel agent or insurance provider to make sure you are fully covered when it comes to visiting areas considered as "war zones".

 

 

 
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (6):

15 February 2012:

Visa: the "invitation letter" or "the Name of Sponsor in Libya" and the approval of the immigration department are still required for all types of visas. The immigration approval is also known as "Visa reference number (from Libya)". Business Visas are being issued via the usual procedure, but, as before, legally and technically speaking they do not allow one to travel as tourist. We can also confirm that Transit Visas were issued in 2012. The issue of "Tourist Visa" however remains "fuzzy" as ever, as Libyans still are waiting for the NTC to publish their promised "visa policy", which way back in September they said will come "in place soon".

Due to lack of "visa policy" Libyan embassies were left to use their "discretion" to grant visas, as confirmed by Libya's ambassador to Malta Saadum Suayeh early on. Some parts of the old law remained effective, others were suspended, while government departments are seldom immune to the administrative "confusion" further complicated by lack of clear instructions. Tunisians and Turks can enter Libya without a visa, while more than 6,000 Syrians arrived in Libya because they said they did not need a visa.  Also there are those who managed to enter Libya without neither a tourist visa nor an invitation letter, mostly through land borders when they were mainly guarded by armed groups. As a result the NTC has announced recently that it is illegal for all foreigners to enter Libya without confirming their visas.

Journalist Visa: the CPJ (the Committee to Protect Journalists) says some journalists were told by the Foreign Ministry that a new visa policy has been set, but embassies do not seem to be aware of it. The CPJ wrote a letter to the interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib regarding the difficulties journalists had encountered when they attempted to obtain Libyan visa. In an article titled "New Libyan rule halts delivery of journalist visas". Read the full letter at: cpj.org/2011/12/new-libyan-rule-halts-delivery-of-journalist-visas.php  .

Air Travel & Airports: there were some incidents that took place in and around the airport early on, such as Tripoli's Souq al-Juma group that surrounded the Tunisian passenger jet on the 26th of November, which led to Tunisair suspending its flights to Tripoli. But generally speaking security now has improved and the Libyan Air Force is operational. Many international airliners have already resumed their flights to Tripoli, and many more said they will resume flights by March 2012, while British Airways will not start their services to Libya until May 2012.

Tourism: contrary to some recent claims, tourism in Libya was effectively established in the last century -- 1990s. The industry however had its limitations, like the "guide", lack of infrastructure and a proper banking system, and the mandatory "tourism police" (required only for groups of five or more travellers, and never for individuals as some had reported). The previous ministry during the ousted government was called "The General Board for Tourism and Traditional Industries". It was completely useless and made no serious attempt to document the priceless heritage of Libya, and even failed to protect this priceless heritage from "looting" and "vandalism" (as reported elsewhere in this site). Some of the previous government websites have continued to operate under the loyalty of the NTC, but most of them have vanished including the website of the Tourism Board. 

On the 22nd of November 2011, the NTC had announced their second Transitional Government, chaired by el-Keib. The cabinet contained 24 ministries, but not one of "Tourism". Many sources across the Internet and the media say Libya will re-establish tourism in New Libya, but without a "Tourism Ministry" and without a "tourism policy", one is left to wonder how tourism would function and under which department. There is no doubt that this is a transitional period and tourism can wait until safety and security were restored 100%. But the work within the country must never stop, as there is so much to do to the destroyed infrastructure that will take years and years to complete. Voluntary work however has already began to clean the tourist sites in Libya and re-activate tourism in the country.

On the 14th of November 2011, tour operators were invited to a meeting at the General Board for Tourism, in the capital Tripoli, to discuss means of activating and promoting  tourism in Libya. The organisers announced the formation of a new organisation: "Tripoli Chamber of Commerce", as an independent entity of the old "Tripoli Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture" (P.O. Box 2321 Tripoli, Tel. 21-33755, Telex (0901) 20461). The meeting was "chaotic", with many attendees unable to understand how they can memorise a 40-article document read to them by one of the organisers. When some of them asked for a copy to read, at leasure, they were told to visit the Chamber's Facebook page, but the page had absolutely nothing to read. Emails and telephone numbers were taken to keep the operators updated, but no calls were received since.

On the 19th of October 2011, the "Libyan Society for Tourism Activation" (الجمعية الليبية للتنشيط السياحي  lsta.org.ly/) was founded by a group of tour operators upon the decision (رقم 819.9.4) of  the "local council" in Tripoli; but without any funding from the local council or the central government. Their aim is to promote tourism in Libya, develop local tourism skills via training, organise exhibitions and tourist festivals, establish awareness of the natural beauty of Libya, campaign to keep Libya clean, coordinate with the concerned authorities to preserve the local heritage and establish new museums, and other activities relating to promoting and developing tourism in Libya. The society however lacks the resources it requires to achieve its intended goals and hence the need for support, donations, and participation from all other operators as well as from the ministry of tourism (if any).

Tunisian Border: there were a number of skirmishes at the Libyan-Tunisian border after Libyans were repeatedly attacked inside Tunisia by Libyans still loyal to the old regime and by Tunisians as well. Reports from Zuwarah say the Libyans were attacked while the Tunisian police and army stood watching. Both authorities eventually intervened and closed down the border point for two weeks. On the 15th of December the border was reopened after an agreement was reached between the Libyan army and the Tunisian authorities. However, two weeks later Berbers from Zuwarah continued to be attacked inside Tunisia, especially near Bengerdan area. The border has since returned to normality, but one cannot rule out violence erupting again. On the 2nd of February 2012 a small incident took place at Ras Ejdir, leading to the border being closed temporarily once more.

Overall advice: we still advise against all travel to Libya. All our services are suspended. The atmosphere is still charged, militias occasionally fighting each other, danger from celebratory fire, terrorist attacks from "loyalists" and "sleeper cells" are possible and expected, and land mines and unexploded munitions still are a problem.

 

 

 

 
     
 

 

 

Libyan Visa Update (5):

05 December 2011:

  • Visa: our visa services remain suspended.

  • Border: Ras Ejdir and Dehiba border checkpoints with Tunisia are closed.

  • War: a recent shooting incident at Ras Ejdir, between Libyan militiamen and border guards, forced the authorities from both sides to close the border point. The checkpoint at Dehiba is also closed after clashes with militiamen. Libya's ambassador in Tunis warned that there are those individuals who want to create divisions between Libya and Tunisia. A number of fights also broke out in a number of cities including Tripoli, Janzur, and Bani Walid. Ashraf al-Marni Swayha, deputy head of Janzur's NTC military council, was shot dead by Zintan fighters at a checkpoint in Janzur on Friday the 2nd of December 2011; the locals responded by destroying the headquarters of the Zintan forces in Janzur and burning their vehicles. On the 24th of November 2011, 16 people lost their lives during a battle in Souq al-Juma'a, Tripoli, between locals and fighters from Bani Walid. Several people also lost their lives in a gunfight in Bani Walid after a militia from  Tripoli entered Bani Walid in an attempt to arrest suspects. A heavy battle, lasting over three days, broke out in Zawiya, with fighters using heavy weapons including missiles, rockets and anti-aircraft artillery, resulting in  a number of casualties, but the NTC intervened and brought the situation under control.

 

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (4):

15 November 2011:

  • Visa: please note that for safety reasons our visa services are currently suspended until further notice. Due to fighting breaking out again along the costal areas including Tripoli and Zawiya the overall situation remains fluid. Coastal areas were said to be safe before, but now this seems to be far from true.

 

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (3):

30 October 2011:

  • Air Travel Ban Lifted: the NTC, the sole legitimate representative of the aspiration of the Libyan people, has requested from the UN to extend its operations in Libya until the end of the year, but the UN Security Council has unanimously voted against their wish and ended its military operation in Libya and cancelled its no-fly zone over Libya on the 27th of October 2011; despite Saifalislam still being at large and despite the military operations to "root out" remaining loyalists still underway. The enforcement of the mandate will expire on the 30th of October, and therefore all travel restriction will be lifted on the 31st of October 2011. Some international flights are already operating from both Benghazi and Tripoli airports after the introduction of "air corridors" on the 13th of October 2011

  • Visa: visitors still require an invitation letter from Libya in order to obtain Libyan visa (as  previous update (2)).

  • Safety: Libya is now declared "Liberated", just as the NTC had said it will do after the fall of Sert. Fighting in Sert came to an end on the 20th of October 2011, and therefore we are expecting the coastal highway between the Tunisian border and the Egyptian border to be declared safe in the coming days. Some minor military operations are still going on. Threat from terrorism therefore cannot be excluded yet, as the country still does not have a police force in place and still is without an army. Once these two forces are set up they still have the task of securing Libya. And even then individual acts of violence are difficult to predict, as anywhere else, especially so in today's volatile Libya where almost every single household is still armed, and as various armed militias and battalions increasingly demand more active roles in the new government of Libya.

  • Our Advice: we still strongly advise against all but unnecessary travel to Libya.

 



 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update (2):

15 October 2011:

  • A number of Libyan embassies have confirmed that the Libyan visa process stays as before. The immigration department in Tripoli also confirmed that the old visa provisions remain active and that they had no new amendments as of October 2011. If you apply for a visa via the Libyan embassy they will most often ask for an "invitation letter", also referred to as "authorisation" or "permission". The British FCO has also confirmed this requirement on its most recent Libya visa update (fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/libya). This must be obtained from inside Libya: from a Libyan friend or resident (if you are applying for visit visa), from a company operating in Libya (if you are applying for business visa), or from a tour operator (if you are applying for tourist visa). Tour operators are authorised to process visas on arrival and they will deal with the letter, the application for entry visa, and everything else without the need to contact the embassy. All types of visas are issued in Tripoli by the immigration department, but the Maltese recently said they would like to see visas issued in Benghazi to facilitate travel between Malta and Benghazi. We have no official confirmation from the Libyan transitional government regarding this.

  • A number of United Nations sanctions are still active, including the no-fly zone, and therefore a number of related services are not fully available. To bypass the UN no-fly zone, the Libyan interim transport minister Anwar el-Feitori and Lt. General Ralph J. Jodice signed a deal in Malta on the 13th of October 2011 which allows the establishment of "air corridors" to be used by civil aviation, between Benghazi and Europe, and between Benghazi and Mesratha and Tripoli. They do not seem to link the capital with the rest of the world. The NTC hopes Tripoli airport will open very soon, as it took command of the airport from the fighters of Nafousa Mountain, who previously were in control of the airport. This means that efforts are underway to normalise travel procedures in Libya and that time is required to ensure safe implementation of these procedures.

  • NTC chairman said Libya and Tunisia are now working together to tighten security and establish proper control over the Libyan-Tinisian land border. The agreement came after the reported proliferation of arms smuggled from Libya, which has become a major concern to both countries and to the whole region. Media reports speak of a busy black market in arms trade in southern Tunisia, where a kalashinkov trades for 500 Tunisian Dinars. Travellers wishing to travel to Libya now should be aware of the possibility of attacks from armed groups still loyal to the old Libyan government, and need to know that the Libyan-Tunisian border may become  restricted at any time without notice. The FCO says it had reports of violent incidents along the road to the Egyptian border. Local reports from Zuwarah also confirm some recent incidents in southern Tunisia, where Libyans travelling through Tunisia in their own cars were attacked by loyalists stationed in Tunisia. The Tunisian army had intervened on the following day and the border area has now been declared safe and under control. The borders are now open and movement across is normal in both directions.

  • War is still going on in Libya, with resistance popping up in new places unexpectedly. The most recent being today's gun battle in Tripoli's Ben Gheshir (Gheshsheer). Yesterday's clashes (of the 14th of october 2011) in Tripoli's Abu Salim area started  after around 50 armed men and women appeared  and began rising the green flag while chanting pro-Gaddafi slogans. Exchange of gunfire with armed men loyal to the NTC ensued shortly afterwards, with journalists reporting smoke rising in the air and heavy exchange of fire. Earlier in the week, the revolt by Gaddafi's loyalists in Regdalin and Ejmail in western Libya, near Zuwarah, led to full scale battle between pro-Gaddafi fighters from around the area of Regdalin and fighters from Zuwarah's military council and the NTC's army who arrived later to quash the rebellion. The battle  lasted for several days, with GRAD rockets landing in Zuwarah for a number of days, and heavy exchange of fire. There are quite a number of towns that are still under Gaddafi's loyalists' control including Sert, Bani Walid, Zilah and Sabha and therefore security is a big issue, since no one can anticipate when or where the loyalists might attack next. The new minister of internal affairs, Mr. Ahmed al Dharrat, is setting up a new security agency in Tripoli, with the aim of rooting-out Gaddafi's loyalists in the towns under the control of the NTC, and currently there are a number of special forces operations "combing" several areas and towns including those the NTC does not control.

  • As a result of the clashes in Tripoli in the past couple of days we are reviewing our advice by strongly advising against all travel to Libya for the time being. Business and diplomatic visits do not come under travel, as these missions have their own security arrangements. [End of update (2).]

 

 

 
     
 

 

Libyan Visa Update:

01 October 2011

There are a number of individual reports from visitors who say they had obtained visas on arrival at the border(s), with some entering via Ras Ejdir while others coming from Emsaad  and reaching Benghazi. One report says that the border visa is restricted and valid only for 15 days. There are also reports of visas obtained from Libyan embassies, but most of these appear to have been issued in relation to business and politics; while some embassies advised to get visa on arrival, just as it was done before via tour operators. There are even reports of visitors entering Libya with no visa at all. Even though many of these remain unconfirmed reports, they do not represent the official view of the transitional government. What is the Transitional National Council (TNC) has to say in relation to the visa issue?

The new law according to the TNC's Constitutional Declaration:

The TNC has announced on the 3rd of August 2011 a 37-point interim "Constitutional Declaration" to provide a framework for the transition to an elected government, and to call for a constitutional assembly within eight months. This Constitutional Declaration updates the current (or the old) law, and also cancels a number of old laws that are related to constitutional matters. Article (35) of this Declaration specifically states that the law regarding all provisions decreed in the current legislations stay the same and remain effective as before, until they are amended or repealed. Here is what it says in Arabic:

 

new laws article 35

TNC's Article (35), Constitutional Declaration.

Translation:

"All the current provisions decreed in the existing legislations shall continue to be effective, in as much as they do not conflict with the provisions of this "declaration", until the announcement of new provisions to amend or repeal them."


What this means is that almost everything stays the same, as before, with the change of the old names of Libya and its institutions to the new names, until the TNC completes the transition period and supervises an elected government. Only the elected government can alter existing laws permanently and introduce new constitution. We have contacted officials from the immigration department in Tripoli and they have confirmed that everything stays the same as before. We will publish any further updates as and when we get them.


Therefore the old visa law should stay the same. In fact Turkey was one of the first countries to take advantage of this when it reiterated that its citizens were allowed into Gaddafi's Libya without an entry visa (independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=132344) and therefore they do not need any visas to enter new Libya. These issues are still being addressed, and the following update from the Libyan embassy in Malta hints at a new visa update to be released by the TNC soon.
.

Libyan Embassy In Malta Issues Libyan Visas:

Libyan ambassador in Malta, Mr. Saadum Suayeh, says he issued visas to some Maltese on the same day (timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110928/local/libya-visa.386797), and that they were issued at his discretion. But he also emphasised that a visa policy should be in place soon. Business visa has a different set of procedures from tourist visa in the old law, and probably it is business visas that the ambassador was issuing from the embassy in Malta, as he made a clear reference to the Maltese business and political delegations who plan to visit Libya.

The TNC's Representative in London favours "visa on arrival":

A few days ago, on the 27th of September 2011, Guma al-Gamaty, speaking to business leaders at the "Libya - The Future" conference in London, had suggested that Britain and Libya drop entry restrictions for each others' citizens, and that "Each country should issue visas on arrival at the airport". He added that the British should not be worried about Libyans coming over and staying in Britain because most will be wanting to return home afterwards (bbc.co.uk/news/). This again indicates that the old system of visa on arrival may well stay in place in the new system.

Is it safe to travel in Libya?

However, the real issue regarding travel in Libya is not the visa, but the war. Fierce fighting still is going on in a number of areas across the central parts of Libya, from coastal Sert and all the way down to Sabha. There are also a number of reports of old-government loyalists attacking southern areas, as in the recent attack on Ghadames, and it is impossible to predict where next they will hit. These minor attacks are not widely reported by the media, since understandably the authorities seek a quick transition to normality, but the war is far from over.

Security is not yet established across the coast from border to border, especially around the Sirte area, and also in the southern areas. Even Libyans cannot enter Mesratha without an "invitation" from someone who is a resident of Mesratha – that is Libyans require an "invitation letter" to visit Mesratha as well as an "escort". We recommend all unnecessary travel to Libya to be postponed for another month or two, until the TNC announces an end of fighting And declares certain areas safe for foreign visitors. Nafousa Mountain, Ghadames and the Sahara are definitely no-go areas for the time being. But short visits to Tripolitania or Cyrenaica would be ideal for the time being. Crossing tours (from border to border) should wait until Sert (Sirte) is fully secured. The road from Ras Ejdir to Emsaad is safe and secure except around 200 km between Mesratha and Sert, where fighting is still going on and therefore the area may be restricted at any given time in the next week or two. All visitors who intend to visit Libya now should assess these risks and decide if they can wait or not.

The FCO (British Foreign & Commonwealth Office) has updated its travel advice to Libya by advising against all but essential travel to Zuwarah, Azzawiya, Tripoli, Alkhums, Zlitan and Mesratha, and the coastal towns from Ras Lanuf to the Egyptian Border, including Benghazi. They still advise against all travel to all other areas in Libya.
(fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/libya)

End of update.

 

 

 
     
 



The Guardian Confirms Vandalising Assaraya Alhamra Museum:

11 September 2011:

In an article titled: "In Tripoli's museum of antiquity only Gaddafi is lost in revolution", the guardian.co.uk confirms the vandalising of the National Museum in Tripoli:

Read the full report at:
guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/sep/11/tripoli-museum-antiquity-shattered-gaddafi-image

Short link for the report:
gu.com/p/3xz76

 

 

 
     
 



Looting of Libya's Archaeological Artifacts & Assaraya Museum: is it true?

the entrance to Assaraya museum in tripoli

 

Last week a number of Internet sites  and blogs, including archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com, circulated the claims in that massive looting was underway in Libya, Leptis Magna was bombed, and that prehistoric art sites were vandalised during the recent events in Libya. The claims originally came from the Russian Nikolai Sologubovsky, apparently a deputy head of a Russian committee of solidarity with the people of Libya and Syria, who told Russian television, without providing any evidence, that the National Museum in Tripoli has been looted and antiquities were being shipped out by sea to Europe.

Vandalising prehistoric art in Libya is not new, as Temehu.com covered at: temehu.com/vandalised-rockart.htm, and there is no reason to suppose it will not happen again or it did not happen recently. Also we have no evidence regarding the looting of Assaraya Alhamra Museum, but we are very much interested to hear from those who have any evidence to share.

According to sciencemag.org (Claims of Mass Libyan Looting Rejected by Archaeologists): "The antiquities in the major sites are unscathed," says Hafed Walda, an archaeologist at King's College London . . . . "But a few sites in the interior sustained minor damage and are in need of assessments."

 

 

 

 
     
 

 

Berber Language Will Be A Key Issue In New Libya!

27 August 2011:

CNN: the Editor Peter Fragiskatos, in an article published by CNN (in its website, see link below), asks if New Libya will bring new freedom for the Berbers in Libya. In an attempt to answer the question, he points out that, "language rights will be a key issue going forward not only in a post-Gadhafi Libya, but also in Morocco and Algeria, where much larger Berber communities live."

Read full article at: edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/26/fragiskatos.berber.language/

 

 

 
     
 

 

Current Update: All Our Libyan Visa Services Are Temporarily Suspended:

03 March 2011

This is to inform our visitors that we are currently unable to provide any visa services to Libya and therefore all our tours are currently suspended until further notice.  

 

 

 
     
 

 

Egyptian-Libyan Border Re-Opened:

07 February 2011

The border between Egypt and Libya  is now open for business as usual. Travellers leaving Libya via Emsaad can now continue their journey overland to Egypt as before. The situation in Egypt itself seems to be returning to normal gradually.

 

 

 
     
 



Egyptian-Libyan Border Closed:

31st of January 2011

The border between Egypt and Libya is closed. The first we learnt about this is when our visitors who completed their transit tour in Libya were returned immediately after reaching the Egyptian check point beyond Emsaad on the 31st of January 2011. They were refused entry into Egypt and were ordered to return to Libya immediately. It is not known for how long the border will be closed, but it looks set to remain so until the situation in Cairo is defused.

 

 

 
     
 

 

Tunisian-Libyan Border: Update on Movement Across The Border:

17th of January 2011

The border area between Libya and Tunisia still is open, and the border movement seems okay as tourists do come in and out of the country as usual. However, the Libyan side of the border is closed at night, probably due to the fact that the border authorities need to prevent cross-border movement of people illegally at night.

Please note that the Libyan side of the border is still open during the day and therefore tourists wishing to enter Libya must do so  either in the morning or around midday.

We also hear that the Tunisian police have road blocks between some areas in Tunisia to protect tourists from being attacked while traveling between cities and towns.  Otherwise the Tunisian side of the border with Libya is also still open as usual. If you can make it to the Libyan border then your guide will be there to meet you and welcome you into Libya.

 

 

 
     
 

 

Travel Restrictions Affecting The Western Mountain & The Red Hamada:

January 2011

Following the recent local development in the Western Mountain near the Kabaw area the tourism authority decided to close some of the sites for foreign visitors to ensure their safety, and subsequently informed Libyan tour companies about a number of restrictions affecting certain areas, including Kabaw, Yefren and Nalut. Travellers passing by Nalut in the way to Ghadames cannot stop in Nalut, but are allowed to drive through. Gharyan, Qasr Al-Haj and the neighbouring areas are not affected.  Also, in a separate incident, al-Hamada al-Hamra desert is closed for tourists. Travellers who had the Hamada in their itineraries have to drive to Sabha via Qaryat instead. It is not known why nor for how long the ban will stay in force.

Areas closed for tourists:

  • Yefren
  • Kabaw
  • Nalut
  • Hamada Al-Hamra
  • All areas bordering the Algerian border
  • Acacus (Takherkhuri)
  • The route Murzuq – Edhan Murzuq – Ennay – Takseet – Acacus

travel restrictions in Libya

A request from the Tourism Police instructing Libyan tour operators to follow the listed restrictions,
namely the border areas and the Murzuq-Acacus route.

 

 

 
     
 

 

Liberal Libya: "freedom, democracy & tourism: the future is Libyan":

28 June 2010:


Libya to become the vienna of North Africa

 

 

 
 

 

Libya Visa For Americans: Second Update: Yes US Citizens Can Now Obtain Libya Tourist Visa On Arrival:

22 May 2010

We have announced on the 19th of May (see below) that we were attempting to confirm the recent news regarding Libyan visa for Americans. We are now in a position to confirm that the ban was lifted and that Americans are finally allowed to visit Libya on a tourist visa. We can also confirm that we currently do accept applications from American nationals to visit Libya on a tourist visa on arrival. No need to visit any embassies any more.

 

 

 
 

 

Latest Update: Libya Appears To Lift Its Visa Ban On Americans: Can The Citizens of USA Obtain Libyan Visa?

19 May 2010

We are currently attempting to confirm the news we heard today in that Libya has finally lifted the visa ban on Americans, among recent changes which envisage Libyan visa laws being relaxed to allow visitors from many countries to visit Libya and to see for themselves, the government said, the new changes planned ahead for "New Libya": the "Free Libya". If the news is confirmed it would mean that the citizens of the United States of America will now be able to obtain a Libyan tourist visa.

The news first leaked out on the 5th of May, after Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi was reported to have said, at the American University in Cairo, that “very, very soon, it will be very easy for many people around the world to visit Libya.
(oealibya.com/front-page/world-news/17572-2010-05-18-17-59-46).

However, we still do not have 100% confirmation regarding this latest update, but today, the 19th of May 2010, may prove to be a historical day as we have strong indications that the time has finally come for Americans to visit Libya on a tourist visa.

 

oea
oealibya.com/front-page/world-news/17572-2010-05-18-17-59-46

But soon, very, very soon, it will be very easy for many people around the world to visit Libya.

 

Libya Sees Thriving Tourism Industry Ahead

 

 

 
 

 

Afriqiyah Airways 8U771 Crash Before Landing At Tripoli Airport

12 May 2010

We deeply offer our condolence to all grieving families affected by the Afriqiyah Airways 8U771 crash at Tripoli Airport last wednesday (May the 12th 2010). Afriqiyah Airways have set up a helpline for relatives, the details of which can be found at their website:
afriqiyah.aero/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70

 

 
 

 

Libyan-Swiss Schengen Visa Saga is Over: The European Union And Libya Have Lifted Their Bans on Granting Visas:

27 March 2010

The European Union and Libya have agreed today Saturday 27 of March 2010 that they will resume granting visas to each others' citizens. All the names of the Libyans black-listed on the Schengen zone have been permanently removed from the list; and likewise Libya has dropped its ban on issuing visas to Schengen-zone Europeans. Official sources say the Swiss businessman Max Goeldi will be released from prison very soon, and that the lifting of the visa ban comes in the interests of strengthening co-operation with the European Union.

Sources:

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8591306.stm
oealibya.com/front-page/world-news/16721-2010-03-27-18-12-37
eubusiness.com/news-eu/libya-switzerland.3wq

 

 

 
 

 

The Swiss are ready to lift their travel restrictions against top-level Libyan officials in return for the Libyans to lift their ban on Schengen citizens travelling to Libya, Bern says.

25 March 2010

The Swiss government has finally indicated that it will lift the ban imposed on some top-level Libyan officials if Libya lifts its ban against European visitors travelling to Libya from the Schengen area. Switzerland also hopes that the businessman Max Göldi, still held in Libya, would be released.

"Switzerland has been persuaded to lift its travel ban against top-level Libyan politicians after talks in Brussels", writes: Euronews.net (euronews.net/2010/03/25/switzerland-lifts-libya-travel-ban-after-eu-pressure/)

"Christa Markwalder . . . said she could not make sense of the step agreed by the Swiss government and the European Union on Wednesday", reports Swissinfo.ch
(swissinfo.ch/eng/index/Public_puzzled_over_concession_to_Libya.html?cid=8551362)

"A top Libyan has welcomed as a "step forward" an acknowledgment by canton Geneva that damages should be paid to Hannibal Gaddafi after his police photo was published," reports Swissinfo.ch
(swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/foreign_affairs/)

 

 

 
 

 

Italians Say Libyan-Swiss Conflict Must Be Resolved  By The 4th of April:

15 March 2010:

It has emerged that the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini's visit to Libya yesterday appears to signal the beginning of the end of the Shcengen saga. Talking with his Libyan counterpart, Mousa Kousa, the Italian minister has announced that if Libya and Switzerland fail to resolve their disagreement by the 4th of April 2010, Italy will propose to its Schengen colleagues to start issuing Schengen visas to the Libyans banned by the Swiss, regardless of whether the Swiss oppose the move or not. The proposal will be presented together with Malta, Spain and Portugal during the Council of European Ministers set to take place next week.

According to Franco Frattini, "Switzerland's conduct is not in line with the goals of Schengen to keep terrorists and criminals from entering Europe. Using Schengen to put pressure on others to resolve bilateral diplomatic conflicts is not one of these goals".

Sources:

oealibya.com/front-page/world-news/16403-2010-03-15-17-48-02
ansamed.info/en/libya/news/ME01.XAM18111.html

 

 

 
 

 

Tripoli's First Tourism Festival

09 March 2010

Tripoli is preparing to host its first Tourist Festival in the Old City around the end of April 2010. The festival is expected to last three days and will include various cultural and tourist activities, with the aim of introducing Libyan tourism and encouraging the development of the various tourist industries required to make tourism in Libya a successful business.

Read more at:
oealibya.com/oea-sections/tourism/15834-2010-02-22-17-42-46.

 

 

 
 

 

The End of The Libyan-Swiss Schengen Visa Saga May Come Sooner Than Expected

2 March 2010

In a speech before the Libyan GPC, the Libyan foreign minister Mousa Kousa has indicated that the tension between Libya and Switzerland over the recent issues could come to an end very soon. He has also stated that all Libya wants is an international decision on the matter, issued by an independent committee comprising three legal experts including one from Libya and another from Switzerland. He said that Libya will accept whatever decision is made by the committee, regardless of whether the ruling is in favour of or against Libya.
(oealibya.com/front-page/local-news/16055-2010-03-02-20-33-43)

 

 

 
     
 

 

EU diplomats Hope For Libya Breakthrough:

26 February 2010:

Swissinfo.ch has reported yesterday that Swiss businessman Max Göldi could be released very soon, and some are even predicting that he could be pardoned by Gaddafi before the middle of March. Swissinfo has also reported that although Spain has managed to reach a “settlement” with Libya, Switzerland must also be prepared to play its part.

 

 

 
 

 

Italy Challenges Switzerland Over Schengen Visa Saga:

Libya Stops Issuing Visa To European Nationals From The Schengen Area:

16 February 2010:

According to a report published by the Libyan daily online newspaper Oea, Libyan visa for the nationals of the Schengen group of countries will be suspended. The news was released last Sunday the 14th of February 2010, quoting an unidentified  "high-ranking" Libyan source.

Apparently the ban will not apply to the EU countries not part of the Schengen treaty, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. According to schengenvisa.cc, a total of 30 countries including most European Union countries and three non-EU members (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) have signed the Schengen agreement; but only 15 of those countries have implemented the common border control and visa provisions: Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and The Netherlands.

The Maltese Foreign Minister Tonio Borg has also contacted the Libyan European Affairs Minister Obeidi regarding the matter; while the EU and Schengen member states will discuss the incident this week and attempt to resolve the issue.

Despite other related disagreements and despite Libya being criticised repeatedly for such decisions, it remains a fact that all Libyans are still being badly treated by most European countries when it comes to granting visas including the Schengen visa.

 

 

 
 

 

Libyan Visa For Canadians: Update:

February 2010

We are pleased to announce that we are in a position to apply for a Libyan visa for the citizens of Canada. If you are a Canadian and would like to visit Libya please let us know.

 

 

 
 

 

Google and UNESCO agree to provide virtual tourism:

whc.unesco.org/en/news/570:
The agreement allows internet users to visit about 19 of the 890 World Heritage Sites via Google's Street View interface; while the remaining sites will be covered via the usual Google Earth and Google Map. It is hoped that virtual visits of these sites will encourage participation in the preservation of these treasures. Watch the following video for more information.

 

 

 
 

 

7th of December 2009:

Submerged Roman City Discovered Off The Coast of Cyrenaica, Eastern Libya:

Archaeologists have discovered what appears to be an ancient, 2nd-century AD, sunken Roman city, just off the coast of Cyrenaica, between the towns of Derna and Bomba, near Tobruk, in Eastern Libya. The discovery was made by members of the project ArCoLibia (Archeology Coast of Libya), in a survey off the Libyan coast. While searching for wrecks, the researchers found walls, tombs, buildings and roads between one and three meters beneath the water.
archart.it/rivista-archeologia/tag/arcolibia/.

 

 

 
 

 

Libya: a future travel destination:

10/11/2009:

Tourism industry leaders at this year's London's World Travel Market (WTM) have made some new predictions regarding travel and the next hot spots of tourism. Although Europe and North America currently make up the biggest proportion of travellers, it looks set that they would be joined by Russians, Brazilians, Indians and Chinese travellers. ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer had pointed out that countries that have been closed for many years, like Libya and Albania, are always of interest to travellers. Read more at:
travelweekly.co.uk/travelhub/media/wtm2009/default.aspx

 

 

 
 

 

Canadians and Libyan visa update:

According to: google.com/hostednews/afp/article: "Libya's embassy on Tuesday denied reports that it has stopped issuing visas to Canadians . . . The embassy in Ottawa said in a statement it "asserts that there are no obstacles or restrictions on the issuance of visas for Canadian citizens to enter Libya." Read more at:
google.com/hostednews/afp/

Canadians & Libyan Visa: October 2009:

It appears that Libya has imposed a ban on Canadians entering the country, but we have no official confirmation of the news. For further information, please see this press release at:
google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5goW3J2jCzE8-nkp_pF0GmHqhH8OQ

 

 

 
     
 

 

Ghadames Festival Dates Update:

The latest: (29,30,31/10/2009):

We have been informed by the organisers of Ghadames festival that the dates for the main festival have been moved forward to: 29th,30th and 31st of October 2009. Please note that we are providing this update as is, and we are not responsible for its accuracy. We understand that this could prove to be a big problem for those who have already booked their holidays specifically to attend the festival, but unfortunately tourism in Libya is still in its infancy!

 

 

 
 

 

Rock  Art   Vandalism:

A Libyan vandal ventured into the sacred territories of Awis(s) and embarked on his mission to vandalise some of the priceless prehistoric paintings of Acacus. Using black paint he painted over a number of cave paintings. The "man" was arrested and have been since imprisoned, and the vandalised area was sealed and closed for cleaning and restoration work.

It was this incident apparently that led to rumours stating Acacus is closed. We can assure Libya's visitors that only the caves that have been vandalised that are closed, and not the whole region of Acacus, which continues to be open for tourism as usual. If your Libyan tour operator cannot get you into Acacus, please get in touch with us.

 

 

 
 

New Libyan Visa Law: August 2009:

Good news: Libya visa on arrival is back.

We have seen a copy of the new law, issued on the 02 of August 2009, and we can confirm that after an absence of two months the visa on arrival is now available at airports, borders and seaports, for both individuals and groups. According to Article 8, the new law becomes effective immediately from the date of its issue (02/08/2009), and it cancels all other laws. However, there are some new alterations too.

 


 
 

 

Ghadames Festival Dates Update:

There are several dates circulating the Internet regarding the starting date of Ghadames Festival. We have been following the issue and here is the latest information we have: – remember: "the latest" does not mean "the final"!!!

The Latest Dates:

  • A one-day private festival by the sand dunes on 02/09/2009
  • The Tuareg Festival on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of October (2,3,4/10/2009)
  • The original Ghadames Festival on the 23rd, 24th, 25th of October (23,24,25/10/2009)

 

 

 
 

New Libyan Visa Law: June 2009:

A new law regarding Libya tourist visa came into effect on the 1st of June 2009. From now on, that is until further notice, visa on arrival will no longer be available. Instead all tourists and visitors must obtain the visa directly from the Libyan embassy (in their country of origin or in the country they are in at the time of applying: for example: Tunisia or Egypt).

The procedure however remains the same: we must receive a copy of the bio page and a copy of its Arabic translation at least two weeks before arrival, and preferably three weeks, because delays at the immigration office and at the embassy can occur.

We will then take these copies to the visa office in Tripoli. The visa office will issue a visa number (or a visa authorisation), which we will send to you if you have applied for the visa individually, or it will be telexed or faxed directly by the Libyan immigration office in Libya to the embassy in your country or in the country you were in when you have applied for the visa.

You then need to contact the embassy with the supplied authorisation to obtain the visa. We will be paying a small fee for this receipt and for the time spent processing the application; the actual visa price will be determined by the embassy and is payable to the embassy. You must let us know when you will be arriving as our guide, as before, must complete the entry formalities for you: you cannot enter the country in your own.

The embassy will also request from you to provide other documents in addition to our visa number and your passport. These include: bank statements, travel insurance, and a return ticket (if you are flying direct from the country of your residence or from another country).

Also they may ask for fingerprints to be taken. This means that it is safer to leave your country of origin with some bank statements in your pocket and with valid travel insurance. Although this may seem unnecessary and may add more complications to the already complicated process, the same applies to all Libyans who apply for a European visa in Libya – they too are required to provide return tickets, bank statements, travel insurance, money and so on in order to obtain a European visa.

 

There is also a new law regarding vehicles (cars) entering Libya:

There are also changes to the law regarding vehicles entering the country: in addition to all the previous fees, as stated in our website (the insurance, carnet and plate number), an amount of 150 Libyan dinar must be paid on each car entering Libya (please see our prices page for details). This amount is not refundable, as is the case with the amount paid for the licence plate.

Please come back for the next visa law; soon!

 

 
 

Swine Flue Update: 18 June 2009:

An outbreak of bubonic plague in the Al-Tarsha area (about 40 km south of Tobruk) has been confirmed by the Libyan government. Also we have reports of the first suspected case of A (H1N1) – swine flu in Libya; and as a result travellers arriving from affected countries are being screened on arrival, and any visitor showing any symptoms of the flu may be placed in quarantine for several days, or even refused entry The WHO has increased its Pandemic Threat Alert Phase to Level 6.

Swine Flue: 11 May 2009:

Currently there are no cases of Swine Flu in Libya. However, all visitors and tourists are being checked and screened on arrival by a Libyan medical team. Travellers displaying symptoms or suspected to have the symptoms may be placed in quarantine for several days or refused entry. After confirmed cases of Swine Flu in Israel, which shares a border with Egypt, the Egyptian authorities have also introduced medical screening for the virus at several airports.

As of 13 May 2009, 33 countries have officially reported 5728 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection; the worst hit being: United States of America (3009 cases), Mexico (2059 cases), Canada (358 cases), Spain (98) and United Kingdom (68).

To check the latest updates, please visit the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO):
who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html

 

 
 

 

Niger & Tuareg Fighters 'agree to peace':

According to the Libyan state news agency Jana, the government of Niger and the Tuareg fighters of the Movement of Niger People for Justice (MNJ) have agreed to end hostilities, after two days of talks in the capital Tripoli.

Breaking News:

March 2009: recent changes mean Tourism Police for individual tourists too:

Owing to a small incident and cross-border criminal activities in recent weeks the security around the border with Algeria has been tightened. In addition to the areas bordering Niger, Chad and Sudan, caution needs to be exercised when visiting areas close to the Algerian border, like Ghat and even Ghadames. In addition to the regular desert pass, required from the Libyan authorities for travellers wishing to visit the desert area of Acacus, a new Libyan law now requires all tourists visiting these areas to be accompanied by a tourism police. Before, this was a condition for groups of five or more tourists only. Now even individuals or groups of two or three visiting Acacus or Ghat require the company of a tourism police.

Update (May 2009): this requirement has now been lifted , and it is no longer required for individuals to be accompanied by a tourist police in their visits to Acacus and along the Algerian border.

 

 
 

Libya's Wireless Internet: One of The Most Advanced in The World:

The Libyan internet service provider Libya Telecom & Technology (ltt.ly) is launching its first wireless network in Libya, known as WiMax, which the company says is one of the most advanced wireless networks in the world. The system works by obtaining a special USB adopter which is able to connect to the internet within 30 miles of any transmission station. This USB can be plugged into any computer without the need to having any software installed. The service will cost around 40 Libyan dinars a month (about €24), plus an advance payment of a one-year subscription. However, currently negotiations are underway to reduce this price down, to around £15 a month.




 
 


Terrorist Threat in Egypt:

January 2009:

Tension in the Middle East and North Africa's Egypt has risen in the wake of the Israeli-Hamas war in the densely populated Gaza strip, and as a result terrorist attacks in Egypt, and in other destinations, are expected. Moreover, it was reported that the Egyptian authorities have suspended issuing travel permits to the areas near its borders with Sudan and Libya, where a number of bandits still operate. 

 

 
 

 

Libyan Visa-Applicants To Submit Fingerprints:

December 2008:

According to a number of sources, the Libyan Government has introduced a new visa system requiring visa-applicants to submit their biometric details, effective from  1 December 2008.

As a Libyan tour operator, we have attempted to confirm this with the Libyan authorities and came to conclude that this will only apply to visitors who request the Libyan visa directly from the Libyan embassy; and that it does not apply to those who are getting their visas at the border or the airport via their Libyan tour operator. If we hear of any developments regarding this matter, we will announce them here; otherwise visa at the border and the airport is as usual.

 

 
 

Libya Flies Journalists To Kufra(h)

November 2008:

The Libyan government sent journalists to the town of Kufrah in support of local tribal leaders who were outraged by the recent exaggerated media reports of the Kufra clashes. The journalists reported that schools, shops and businesses were open as usual, after a "minor incident" between the youngsters of two local tribes was blown out of proportion by both the Arab and international media.

 
 

 

 
 

Breaking News:

Visa News: minimum of five tourists required:

A recent Libyan internal law (November 2008) requires all visa applications, regardless of nationality, to contain a minimum of five passports or more. This does not however apply to Business and VIP visas, as they continue to be available for individual visitors. If you are travelling alone or within a group of less than five, please write to us for further details.


 
 

It is great to be free!

Smoking : the Libyan General People’s Committee has banned smoking in public places, like cinemas, public transport, airports, schools and hospitals.



 
 

Italy Pays Libya Compensation:

August 30, 2008 (named by Libya as "the Libyan-Italian Friendship Day")

Italy has agreed to pay Libya US$5 billion as compensation for its occupation of the country from 1911 to 1943, in a memorandum signed by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Libyan leader Col Muammar al-Qaddafi. Italy will also fund US$500 million worth of electronic monitoring devices to help Libya crack down on illegal migrants turning up on Italian shores. There will also be a colonial-era mine clearing project to make the area safer for both locals and tourists.



 
 

The Chad Ordeal:

11 Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt by Sudanese Terrorists Rescued:

Five Germans, five Italians and one Romanian tourists and eight Egyptian guides were kidnapped by Sudanese terrorists on the 19th of September 2008 in southern Egypt. They were attacked near Gilf al-Kabir, close to the border with Libya and Sudan. Claims laid by Sudanese and Egyptian officials in that the tourists were said to have been moved into Libya were proved to have been false. Shortly afterwards, Ali Yousuf, head of protocol at the Sudanese foreign ministry, reported that all the hostages were safe. During the tense few days, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported a $15m ransom, while Germany was in contact with the kidnappers. During the clashes that ensued between the terrorists and the Sudanese army, Sudanese officials have shot six of the kidnappers and taken two more hostages, and confirmed that the hostages are held in Chad, in the Tabbat Shajara. On the following day, the 29th of September 2008, the hostages were rescued, unharmed, and taken to a military base near Cairo. During the search for the kidnappers and the hostages travel in the Libyan desert area was suspended for a few weeks, but now all services have returned to normal and there is no travel restriction.

 

 
     
 

Beltone Financial has opened an office in Tripoli:

Beltone Financial is partnering with the Libyan Economic and Social Development Fund in a deal to provide a comprehensive suite of services, including investment banking, securities brokerage and asset management. Beltone Financial's Chairman, Mr. Aladdin Saba, pointed out that " Libya's economic, social and political climate signals that the time is right to invest in Libya. " Libya's economy is recovering rapidly, and revenues from foreign investment and tourism has seen the Libyan Annual per capita income rise to US$ 16,000.


 

 

 
 
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