The people of Tawergha will be allowed back into their city within days, sources familiar with the matter have confirmed to the Libya Times.
After spending the last 7 years in refugee camps scattered across the country, living on humanitarian aid provided by the UN which has labelled them as ‘Internally Displaced People’, an agreement was brokered late last year by Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) which was supposed to see Tawerghan refugees returning home in exchange for compensation to Misratan families affected by the 2011 war.
Several attempts have failed, until the GNA announced last month that Tawerghans would be able to return starting the first of February 2018. Two days before the announced date, Tawerghan families from Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha flocked in their hundreds to positions around Sirte and Bani Walid in a coordinated march that was supposed to converge in Tawergha on the big day. The plan was interrupted by armed by militias from Misrata who used live rounds to prevent refugees from advancing toward Tawergha, accusing the GNA of failing to honour the agreement.
Tawergha, a small city situated some 50 kilometres to the east of Misrata, was considered by many as the biggest victim of Libya’s 2011 conflict. In August of that year its entire population of 38,000 has been forcibly displaced by militias from Misrata in revenge for the city’s alleged support for Gaddafi forces. Tawerghans acknowledge that Gaddafi has used their city to mount attacks against rebel forces in Misrata and that some Tawerghans have fought alongside Gaddafi forces, however, they believe that the Misratan response was not only unjustifiable, but also a racially-motivated collective punishment (see video below).