Dormitories Renovated for Heroes in Benghazi

Dormitories for heroes in BenghaziFaraj Al-Obeidi, one of the first responders of the Civil Defense Unit of the Libyan National Safety Authority. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

 

Faraj Al-Obaidi has been working in the Civil Defense Unit of the Libyan National Safety Authority for almost nine years. Motivated by a sense of humanitarian action for his hometown of Benghazi, Faraj is a first-responder to natural disasters such as fires and – since the outbreak of the conflict – attacks such as missile strikes and explosions. Today, Faraj has just returned from an emergency call to respond to an explosion in the Selmani district.

Highlights

  • The Civil Defense Unit is the only institution in Benghazi that responds to natural and man-made disasters. Its role became vital as the crisis in Libya became worse.
  • Since 2011, the instability, blockades and limited mobility in Libya has fractured the connection between the Civil Defense in Benghazi and the main headquarters in Tripoli.
  • The dormitories have been renovated with UNDP support, through the Stabilization Facility for Libya. Now the entire wing is painted and new doors are installed.

 “We were called in by the military police to deal with the aftermath,” Faraj said. “It’s our duty to the city.”

The Civil Defense Unit is the only institution in Benghazi that responds to natural and man-made disasters. Its role became vital as the crisis in Libya became worse. “We’ve been working non-stop to help Benghazi during this time,” said Fozi Al-Faituri, the head of the Investigations Department.

The Civil Defense Unit building is located downtown, near where the fight raged. "It was a challenge to work from there. There is no temporary building for us to move to,” Fozi explained, “and the safety of the citizens depends on our work. We couldn’t abandon Benghazi.”

Since 2011, the instability, blockades and limited mobility in Libya has fractured the connection between the Civil Defense in Benghazi and the main headquarters in Tripoli. The supplies, equipment and resources that the Benghazi branch relies on are sent only intermittently, meaning that this division depend on their own means much of the time. 

dormitories benghazi 2The Civil Defense building, and the ambulance provided by SFL Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

A total of 48 responders spend their time on duty at the dormitories of two shifts of rooms for 24 people each waiting to be called. Once the bell is rung, signaling an emergency, they slide down the pole to their vehicles below to head to the scene of the crisis.

When the Stabilization Facility in Libya project team visited the unit, the building was very deteriorated. The head of the Civil Defense Unit, Abdulaziz Fsai, explained that the dormitories for the firemen and first responders were a priority. “The comfort of the men who work here is our priority,” he said.

The dormitories have been renovated with UNDP support, through the Stabilization Facility for Libya. Now the entire wing is painted and new doors are installed. An ambulance was also provided for responders who are injured on the job. “The project is a huge help, and we appreciate all who stand with us,” said Abdulaziz. “The dorms are much better now than they were before,” added Faraj.

When it comes to covering their needs and continuing to saving lives in Benghazi, the Civil Defense Unit is now becoming more self-reliant and resilient. The responders themselves are now working on maintenance and repairs to their fire trucks, vehicles and equipment, and also receive support from the local community.

“Our men’s spirits are high despite the situation,” said Haithem Al-Omami, head of the responders’ unit, “because our work is all for the public good.”

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