Misrata’s children try to recreate a normal life after war

Misrata child on tank

Civilians in the Libyan city of Misrata are bearing the brunt of the fighting.

The port city is said to be a stronghold for rebels and opposition members trying to oust Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi from power. 

Many residential areas have been destroyed. Hundreds of people have died and thousands are missing. 

The 12 week siege has been particularly gruelling for the children. 

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

Duration: 2’33″


The Libyan city of Misrata is in rubbles after weeks of shelling and urban fighting.

The rebel stronghold was under siege by pro-Gadhafi forces for nearly three months.

The total number of casualties is not known, but the conflict has taken a toll on the bodies and minds of its residents.

Five year old Malak Al-Shami lost her right leg in a grenade attack at her home.

She also lost a brother and a sister the same day.

She was in bed when the rocket smashed through the ceiling and since then, says her Aunt, she has trouble falling asleep.

Hajrab Abdal-Shaheed is Malak's aunt:

"She have a problems in sleeping at night, and she sometimes dreaming about the explosion and sometimes dream about her sister and brother, and sometimes she, saying 'I wish that I wasn't in the house when that happened'."

Scores of homes were destroyed in the fighting. Many people are now living in schools.

One school alone is housing 25 families.

In one of the classrooms, children drew pictures of tanks, snipers on rooftops and dead bodies lying on the streets.

UNICEF Representative, Saeed Awadallah is assessing the impact of the war on the children.

"And, with continuous shelling and the shootings and the snipers. So it was, it was very hard on the children. Some children were screaming, some children have seen their families, the members of their families, dying, injured."

After the retreat of government forces, the fighting has subsided.

Children want to go out and play, but their parents are worried about unexploded cluster bombs and landmines hidden under the sand and rubble.

Local radios have started to broadcast messages warning about the dangers of these deadly devises.

UNICEF's Saeed Awadallah again: 

"We will work with our partners to bring in services and recreation kits and whatever is required to provide these services." 

Meanwhile, as mines are cleared and bullets are picked off the street, children try to recreate a normal life. 

Blown up tanks and other remnants of war are now part of the décor, as children play on their new swings. 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Filed under Today's Features.
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