Libyan officials: Airstrike kills 7 workers in Tripoli

A man injured in an airstrike that hit a biscuit factory is treated in a hospital in the capital, Tripoli, Libya, Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 November 2019

Libyan officials: Airstrike kills 7 workers in Tripoli

  • Tripoli has been the scene of fighting since April
  • The health ministry said the airstrike took place in the capital’s Wadi el-Rabie neighborhood

CAIRO: An airstrike slammed into a biscuit factory in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Monday killing at least seven workers including five foreign nationals and two Libyans, health authorities said.
Tripoli has been the scene of fighting since April between the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, and an array of militias loosely allied with the UN-supported but weak government which holds the capital.
The Tripoli-based health ministry said the airstrike took place in the capital’s Wadi el-Rabie neighborhood, south of the city center where fighting has been raging for months.
Malek Merset, a spokesman with the ministry, told The Associated Press that the dead included five workers from Bangladesh, and two Libyan nationals.
The airstrike also wounded at least 33 workers, mostly from Niger and Bangladesh, who were taken to nearby hospitals for urgent treatment, Merset said.
Footage shared online showed wounded people with bandages and blood on their legs on stretchers before being taken by ambulances to hospitals.
Fighting for Tripoli has stalled in recent months, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city’s southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.
Libya has been divided into rival governments, with Tripoli controlling parts of the country’s west, and a rival government in the east aligned with Haftar’s force. Each side is backed by an array of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory.
East Libyan authorities said on Sunday a Libyan Airlines aircraft had been seized by officials at the airport in the western city of Misrata. The Tripoli-government controls the airport, and militias seen as its political allies occupy the city.
Ezz Al-Din Al-Mashnoun, a spokesman for Libyan Airlines, said in a statement that the aircraft is the only functioning plane used by the airline in the eastern region.
The passenger jet was undergoing routine maintenance and was due to take off Sunday for the airport in Benghazi.
Hatem Al-Oreibi, a spokesman for the eastern Libyan administration, demanded that the Misrata airport return the plane within hours or “face escalatory measures,” without elaborating.
The seizure of the plane came days after east Libyan authorities had begun stopping any flights coming from Misrata, alleging security reasons.
Misrata airport is the only functioning airport in western Libya. Tripoli-allied militias have used it as an air base during the conflict.
A spokesman for the UN-supported government did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.
The rise in violence this past year threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.


A project helps Syrian entrepreneurs in four countries escape the shadow of war

Updated 20 min 33 sec ago

A project helps Syrian entrepreneurs in four countries escape the shadow of war

  • Start-ups are offered competitions, bootcamps and training programs
  • 'Spark' has been running an entrepreneurship program for five years

CAIRO: The Startup Roadshow was founded in 2018 to help Syrian refugees and expats in four different countries: Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan.

It was established when Spark, a Dutch organization supporting youth projects all over the world, reached out to Jusoor.

“We have been running our entrepreneurship program for five years, and we’ve been running training boot camps and competitions for Syrian startups,” said Dania Ismail, board member and director of Jusoor’s Entrepreneurship Program.

“We have also developed our own proprietary training curriculum, which is tailored to Syrian entrepreneurs, in the region and around the world.”

Spark sought out Jusoor to create a project to support Syrian entrepreneurs in those four countries, later bringing on Startups Without Borders to handle the competition’s outreach, marketing and PR.

“We came up with this idea where a team of trainers, facilitators, and mentors would move from one city to another because it’s hard for Syrian youth to travel around. So, we decided to go to them,” said Ismail, a Syrian expat all her life.

The competition goes through five cities: Beirut, Irbil, Amman, Gaziantep and İstanbul.

The boot camps last for five days in each city, and throughout the Roadshow, 100 entrepreneurs will undergo extensive training and one-on-one mentorship to develop their skills and insights into the business world.

“We have five modules that are taught on different days. Then, the pitches are developed, practiced and presented,” Ismail, 39, said.

“In each location, we pick the top two winners — in total, we’ll have top 10 winners from each city.”

The top 10 teams pitched their ideas live in front of a panel of judges, at the second edition of Demo Day 2019, which was held in Amman on Nov. 4.

The best three Syrian-led startups won cash prizes of $15,000, $10,000, and $7,000, respectively.

They also had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas during Spark Ignite’s annual conference in Amsterdam. The competition aims to give young Syrians the hard-to-get chance to secure a foothold in the business world.

“We’re trying to empower young Syrians who are interested in the entrepreneurial and tech space. We want to empower them with knowledge, skills and confidence to launch their ideas,” Ismail said.

Despite the limited duration of the Roadshow and the lack of financial aid, the people behind the program still do their best to help all applicants.

“We try as much as possible to continue supporting them on their journeys with mentorship, advice and connections through our very large network of experts and entrepreneurs,” she said.

Jusoor’s efforts to help Syrian youth do not stop at the Roadshow, and the future holds much in store for this fruitful collaboration.

“We’re expanding our entrepreneurship program, and our next project will be an accelerator program that will continue working with a lot of the promising teams that come out of the Startup Roadshow,” Ismail said.

“We want to provide something that has a partial online component and a partial on-ground one, as well as an investment component where these companies receive funding as investment, not just grants and prizes,” she said in relation to the second phase of the Entrepreneurship Program, which is launching in 2020.

Ismail said: “The Roadshow was created so that Syrian youth can have the chance to change their reality, becoming more than victims of an endless war.

“The competition gives them the tools to become active members of society, wherever they may be, contributing to the economies of those countries.

“Once you’ve built up this generation and given them those skills and expertise, they’ll be the generation that comes back to rebuild the economy in Syria, once things are stable enough there.

“We hope that a lot of these young entrepreneurs the Startup Roadshow was able to inspire, train or help will be the foundation for the future of a small- to medium-sized economy inside Syria.”

 

• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.