Protests at key Libya oil refinery costing millions

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Photo – AFP

A senior Libyan official said protests held by former rebels demanding medical treatment and jobs has costed Libya around $30 million so far.

“The demonstration has cost the country at least $30 million until now,” outgoing deputy oil minister Omar al-Shakmak told AFP when asked about the demonstrations in the western city of Zawiyah.

He attributed the losses to disruption of operations at the key refinery, which supplies both the domestic and international markets. Exports at the port are also halted as a result.

According to the residents of anti-Gaddafi stronghold, around 150 war veterans are taking part in the sit-in and demanding medical support for injuries suffered in the 2011 conflict that toppled dictator Muammer Gaddafi.

“They want to be evacuated as quickly as possible,” said Naima al-Hammi, who represents Zawiyah in the national assembly. “Some risk losing organs if they are not treated.”

She added that a high-level meeting took place on Sunday to address the issue, and assured that the authorities were working to obtain necessary paperwork to transfer the most urgent cases to hospitals in Europe.

However, the protesters are demanding an urgent resolution and have refused to move until a deal was not finalised.

Clashes have jolted capital Tripoli, 50 kilometres east of Zawiyah, with rival militias fighting each other over control on former state buildings. The city is also suffering from long lines forming at petrol stations and monster traffic jams.

Official LANA news agency quoted Adnen Abdelmaula, the distribution director for Libya’s National Oil Corporation, as saying that the country has fuel reserves that can last more than two months.

Established in 1976, the Zawiyah oil refinery was the first built by NOC. It supplies the west of the country, accounting for about 70% of domestic consumption.

Libyans often seek medical treatment in other countries due to poor conditions at local hospitals. Government schemes that took former rebels for treatment abroad have been cut due to abuse, corruption and outrageous bills.

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