“More than 500 families have returned to Tawergha after renovation of three schools in the city in September 2020," said Mr. Mr. Abd al-Rahman Shakshak, Head of Tawergha Local Council.
In 2011, during the conflict that Libya experienced, 40,000 Tawergha residents were forced to leave their homes becoming displaced for over seven years. Thanks to the Reconciliation agreement between Misrata and Tawergha in 2018 facilitated by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), people from Tawergha began to return progressively to their homes safely and settle again.
"My team and I used to present our programs and games to children during the most challenging circumstances. Despite challenges, we were all keen to continue providing these programs due to their importance in resettling people, especially children," said Ms. Salima Khamis, sport supervisor in the Education sector of Tawergha local council, married and mother of two children.
"When reconciliation between Tawergha and Misrata was announced, we were very pleased with this news, which we had waited for a long time. Therefore, I decided to return and settle again in my beloved neighborhood in Tawergha," Salima stated.
Returnees found a ghost city with no functioning basic services. It was very difficult for people to adapt to the situation and the challenge of stabilizing the area became the responsibility of the local council.
''When we returned to the city to start working, there were no places to use, in terms of housing, healthcare or education. At the beginning, we prepared a school and a mosque as housing for families. After that, we used the prefabricated buildings [ provided by the Ministry of Education] to have a school and health center. We had to do something to help the people settle again in the area," declared Mr. Shakshak.
Schools renovated, hope for a better future
With the progressive return of residents to their home city, the local council was in an urgent need to provide basic services and contribute to the stability of Tawergha. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) responded to the requests of local authorities and initiated some interventions.
Led by national and local institutions and implemented by UNDP with support from 13 international partners and the Government of Libya through the Ministry of Planning, the Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) completed renovation of three educational institutions: Um Al Moamineen School , which accommodates 250 students in "primary and intermediate", Shohada Tawergha School , which has the capacity to host 200 students in "primary and intermediate" and Ittihad Ifriki School for 150 students in "elementary and preparatory".
In times of Covid-19 pandemic, schools were closed for a long period as a preventive measure, but Salima and her team took advantage of the newly renovated buildings to conduct some entertainment activities.
"The schools are ready to accommodate students as soon as furniture is in place. New doors and windows have been installed in all schools in addition to repairing toilets and painting all the walls," declared Mr. Saleh Shaybah from the Education Sector of Tawergha Local Council.
"The summer season in Tawergha is very hot which makes it hard for the students to concentrate, so cooling devices have been installed in all schools," he added.
After completing primary and secondary levels, students will need to go to universities. Parents and educators would prefer to have university facilities locally. This will avoid long distances for students and additional financial costs for parents.
"Since the old college is not rehabilitated yet, the University of Misrata offered to open a branch in the region. So students will be able to complete their higher and university studies in Shohada Tawergha School rehabilitated by UNDP’s Stabilization Facility for Libya," he explained.