After reaching an agreement on the return of over 40,000 displaced Tawarghans, the residents of the two cities in Libya have begun the first phases of reconciliation by joining each other in mosques for iftar.
People from the two cities of Tawergha and Misrata in Libya have come together to break their fast as part of a joint iftar during the holy month of Ramadan.
Residents from both cities have sat with each other for iftar, the evening meal to break one’s fast, and thanked those who had facilitated the occasion after years of conflict and tension between the two sides.
“This is the biggest issue that we have faced and we consider that we have won a big victory over who exploited this issue and took advantage of it,” said one returnee. “We are very happy and everything is good. God bless the country and the people and God bless you for your presence with us”.
“This is the beginning of our entry into Tawergha. We are ready,” said Ali al-Qantari, general coordinator within the city of Tawergha. “The beginning is always difficult and our presence is necessary here to welcome our guests and beloved ones from Misurata.
The joint meal, which has taken place every evening for five days now, is an unprecedented event in Libya’s recent history. In 2011 when conflict broke out in Libya, the two cities fell on polar opposite sides of the conflict.
Misrata became a base of anti-Gaddafi activity while Tawergha remained as a loyalist stronghold. During the initial stages of the conflict, Misratans decried the brutal tactics used by Tawerghans to suppress their revolt, which reportedly included killings and mutilations.
When Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, militias from Misrata saw this as a means of gaining revenge, and subsequently expelled people from Tawergha. The city throughout the Libyan conflict became known as a ‘ghost city’.
In recent months, mediation efforts were ongoing to facilitate the return of people to Tawergha. An initiative in February, which was signed by presidential decree, fell apart after Misrata militias prevented convoys of the displaced from returning home.
However, in early June, an agreement was finally reached to allow the convoys to move, allowing thousands Tawerghans to return home.
The iftar, which is taking place towards the end of Ramadan, is symbolic of the kindness and generosity associated with the holy month.