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-   -   Security Update Libya. (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/sahara-travel-forum/security-update-libya-64733)

Cam Johnson 10 Jun 2012 22:19

Security Update Libya.
 
For those who might be interested, the security situation in Sirte on the coastal route has just taken a turn for the worse. Rumours are rife in the town of an impending battle here between various katiba brigades and the coming to head of differences between the NTC and Security Council (who are assumed to have Al Qaeda links). All foreign organisations (at least the demining outfits) are leaving the town tomorrow (11-06-12) as we have been advised that our safety cannot be guaranteed.

Reports are circulating of large numbers of technical vehicles converging on the town especially from the Benghazi direction. This is the third time we have had this kind of warning and nothing has come of previous warnings. However, last week 5 'rebels' were reported to have been killed at a check point on the outskirts of town in mysterious circumstances.

Travelers wishing to use the coast road in the coming days should be aware of this and make any decisions accordingly. Will update if anyone needs further info.

Cheers,
CJ.

roro 11 Jun 2012 12:28

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cam Johnson (Post 382183)
For those who might be interested, the security situation in Sirte on the coastal route has just taken a turn for the worse. Rumours are rife in the town of an impending battle here between various katiba brigades and the coming to head of differences between the NTC and Security Council (who are assumed to have Al Qaeda links). All foreign organisations (at least the demining outfits) are leaving the town tomorrow (11-06-12) as we have been advised that our safety cannot be guaranteed.

Reports are circulating of large numbers of technical vehicles converging on the town especially from the Benghazi direction. This is the third time we have had this kind of warning and nothing has come of previous warnings. However, last week 5 'rebels' were reported to have been killed at a check point on the outskirts of town in mysterious circumstances.

Travelers wishing to use the coast road in the coming days should be aware of this and make any decisions accordingly. Will update if anyone needs further info.

Cheers,
CJ.

Thanks Cam for the info even if it is a bad one...

RR.

gvdaa 11 Jun 2012 13:32

Thanks Cam. Still in Misrata? I was surprised to see many salafists in Sirte in march. They were taking care of the university, among others. I spoke to commander Ali Safrani. Do you know this guy? Liker many other in Sirte he was openly supporting al Qaida.

Chris Scott 11 Jun 2012 21:12

Thanks for the update

Looks like it may have started already
BBC News - Libya unrest: UK ambassador's convoy attacked in Benghazi

Plus more of the same in Kufra
BBC News - At least 16 killed in two days of Libya clashes

Ch

Cam Johnson 11 Jun 2012 22:22

Not looking too good at the moment here in Libya. Apart from the events taken place in Sirte over the last few days, there has been a marked increase in general criminality this year. We've had 4 vehicles stolen in the last 3 months, thankfully 2 were recovered. This is more prominent in the east, especially in Benghazi.

Here is the local coverage of the events in Sirte;

Foreign NGOs ordered out of Sirte | Libya Herald

Definitely there is a power struggle brewing and it's epicentre may turn out to be the Sirte area.

Gert, we're all back at 'home' in Misurata which is the most stable area on the coast. There is support of AQ in Libya, but a lot more against their activities, but as you can imagine their support is rooted in the belief that AQ has the strong arm necessary to bring all the different factions into line. I may have met commander Ali, but Libya has as many commanders as South Sudan has brigadiers: a lot!

We were stopped at a checkpoint and asked way we were leaving Sirte when there was so much work to do. We produced our Get Out of Town, Now! letter from the Security Council, which I'll probably have framed when I get home.

Safe travels all.
CJ.

Chris Scott 22 Jun 2012 16:11

recent Libya transit
 
I've just been notified of another recent overlanders' transit of Libya, about a week ago so they were either lucky or it's not as bad as was predicted despite this report and this near Ghadames. It's still far from plain sailing.

New Tunisian reg: no foreign vehicles can pass out of Rad Ajdir into Libya, but with persuasion it got done at the Dehibat-Wazin crossing to the south (even though visa collection was at Ras).

The recently announced tourist visas are now only available at airports. A business visa cost 500 LD. A guide was not mandatory, but wisely the couple above chose one one anyway.

RAC carnet does not include Libya at present, but there's no office at Wazin to issue the local Libyan version.

An update on Egyptian entry from Libya coming soon. A new border post has been built and may open soon (which curiously, matches the news with the Sudan border on Lake Nasser).

Ch

roro 25 Jun 2012 10:53

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Scott (Post 383476)
I've just been notified of another recent overlanders' transit of Libya, about a week ago so they were either lucky or it's not as bad as was predicted despite this report and this near Ghadames. It's still far from plain sailing.

New Tunisian reg: no foreign vehicles can pass out of Rad Ajdir into Libya, but with persuasion it got done at the Dehibat-Wazin crossing to the south (even though visa collection was at Ras).

The recently announced tourist visas are now only available at airports. A business visa cost 500 LD. A guide was not mandatory, but wisely the couple above chose one one anyway.

RAC carnet does not include Libya at present, but there's no office at Wazin to issue the local Libyan version.

An update on Egyptian entry from Libya coming soon. A new border post has been built and may open soon (which curiously, matches the news with the Sudan border on Lake Nasser).

Ch

Hi,

I can't go to this report about transit of Lybia...
BTW it's not very easy to find infos about what's going on in this country and to fhave a clear idea if it is enough safe for us...
(I'm planning to drive along coastal road in March 2013 to reach Egypt then Sudan).

RR.

Chris Scott 25 Jun 2012 11:22

I fixed the link, Ro.

My feeling is that currently tourists aren't a target as they are in other places, but also a certain amount of luck is required.

Depending on how things develop, I would do as they did: take a guide to help with the border and subsequent checkpoints, even if you don't actually need one - and unless you know better, drive the 1000km from Leptis to Cyrene in a day.

Ch

roro 25 Jun 2012 12:36

Thanks,

RR.

Roman 25 Jun 2012 18:44

Hi all,

Arriving in Libya in late January 2012 we were advised by our Libyand guide to get a business visa in London (we never considered applying for one at the border) and forget Ras Adjir as too risky for being too close to the hotbeds of tension in the coastal towns betweeen the border and Tripoli. I suppose the situation has not changed much since.

As for safety, we only experienced one situation in Sirte which was mildly unpleasant. Everywhere else our guide had no problem processing us quickly through checkpoints with a friendly wave of hand. Actually, it was a lot worse in Egypt.

What has changed is that while we were greeted everywhere with a smile and handshake as long awaited guests, now we have seen a number of rather sinister incidents: capture of the international criminal court officials, shelling of the UK ambassador's convoy and explosion outside the US consulate. This shows that at least Western officials are no longer immune from hostility.

Whether Libyans' attitudes towards Western tourists are changing, or some radical grups are getting out of control, we can only speculate. It certaily does not bode well.

Cam Johnson 18 Aug 2012 09:04

Update.
 
So the 'Show-down in Sirte' never materialized, however tensions remain. We have decided not to return there and have closed down our office in the town permanently. It's just not worth the hassle. For people interested in going into the town, there's not much worth seeing except for the destruction of the town and the sewer where Gaddafi was captured. Apart from that, I wouldn't recommend staying in the town itself. Be very careful about showing GPS units in the Sirte area.

Meanwhile in Misurata, the International Committee of the Red Cross, has relocated all their expat staff to Tripoli after a bomb attack and RPG attack on their office compound on separate occasions. Also they experienced a similar attack in Benghazi.

I think this is highly unusual for Misurata and I think some misguided individuals have got the wrong impression of the activities of the Red Cross. I have never felt threatened during my time in Misurata and it continues to be my home away from home in Libya.

There are still a few military checkpoints along the coastal route. I would recommend that you have an Arabic translation of your vehicle documents with you. As for a guide, if you stay on the coastal route there is not real reason for a guide apart from acting as a translator. If there is a legal requirement for a guide, the lads manning the check points won't know about that & the police never stop anybody anyway.

The biggest threat facing visitors to Libya is the driving habits of the locals. Libyan motorists will take the shortest route to where there are going and if that means driving up the wrong side of the motorway or going against the flow on a roundabout, then so be it.

Roman ruins, Leptis Magna and Sabratha are open to visitors and Bub Al Azizizya (the Gaddafi compound in Tripoli) is also open, although it's a bit smashed up these days. There is even a travel agent opened up down the road from us here in Misurata. Also visit a museum/memorial here in Misurata that shows many of the equipments used during the siege of Misurata, including a Scud missile and carrier.

Generally, the security situation has improved. However there are some sensitive areas where due care should be exercised.

Safe travels all.

Niva Say Never 18 Aug 2012 19:53

Thanks for the update Cam, much appreciated

jimosse 18 Aug 2012 20:48

business visas and travel to southern Libya
 
After finding a decent way to get a business visa for an acceptable fee given the alternatives (which are almost non-existant) I'm till planning the Italy to Tunisia ferry and then overland thru Libya to Egypt. All this Turkey RoRO to Egypt ports for 900$ is too much. Egypt ports have to be worse for import hassels versus the Libyan border??

You post encourages me as this will work.

Am i pushing things to think of travel besides blasting the coast road in a week or so? Ghat?

Going mid to late November on a 5-6 month eastern route trip south to CT and looking for others to ride with, esp the northern challenges.

Thanks!

Cam Johnson 18 Aug 2012 21:41

Sorry jimosse, I can't tell you much about Ghat although you might be pushing it to get down there and through to Egypt in a week. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to get into the desert as much as I would like.

I have driven the coastal route from Tripoli to Benghazi often in the last 6 months and can confirm that you should make that route without any problems these days. The further south you go, you will run into more obstacles. Most likely these obstacles will be well-meaning Libyans looking out for your safety. However tensions are still high in the Bani Walid, Sabha & as mentioned earlier, Sirte areas.

For those looking to transit Libya quickly, take the coastal route but by-pass Benghazi via the Ajedabiya-Tobruk road.

Hotels are expensive and not easy to find. If you want to free camp in the desert, be very cautious where you do it and be aware if anyone is watching you. Libyans are normally very hospitable and if you are invited to a private home, by all means take the opportunity. Usually there is a separate room for visitors however male and female visitors are usually entertained in separate rooms. Western females are afforded a 'special' status and can sometimes pass between the mens world and the womens world in traditional, gender segregated Libyan society.

Good luck with the visa!

roro 19 Aug 2012 09:14

Hi Cam and thanks for these reports

"
Good luck with the visa!"

Do you mean it's not so easy to get it?
RR.

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