Belfast Telegraph

Director's fears for Libya as civil war deepens

By Clare Weir

A director at a Ballymena medical supplies company which does business in Libya has spoken of his worries for the future of the strife-torn country.

CIGA Healthcare, which employs 15 people, supplies self-diagnostic tests for pregnancy, diabetes and other health matters to other countries, including the USA, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

The company has its own branded product range of tests, known as SureSign, which also test for conditions such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.

It has taken part in a series of Invest Northern Ireland missions to markets in Africa and the Gulf states and has kept strong ties to Libya despite the ongoing turmoil.

This week the Foreign Office warned that Britons should leave Libya immediately because of growing instability within the country.

Neil Armstrong, sales director at CIGA Healthcare, said he was very sad about the most recent trouble in the country.

"I spoke to my business contact the other evening and it sounds like the country is falling to pieces, there is no infrastructure, there is no fuel, the country has come to a standstill," he said.

"I am less worried about the business interest and more worried about the people and the country.

"It is a very westernised country on the edge of Europe but people don't seem to be paying attention to the plight of the people there, they need help.

"The world's attention seems to be on Gaza at the moment, but there is just as much of a crisis in Libya and I don't know how it is going to come out of this."

Fighting between pro-government forces and rival militias in recent weeks has led to scores of deaths in the capital city of Tripoli and in Benghazi.

The government has been unable to disarm the numerous armed groups which emerged following the Libyan civil war in 2001, which ended the 42-year rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. On Saturday, the US evacuated its embassy in the capital, Tripoli, citing a "real risk" because of the fighting.

Turkey has also withdrawn some 700 members of staff from Libya.

The US government also warned against all travel to Libya and recommended that US citizens leave the country "immediately".

The United Nations also announced it was withdrawing all its staff from Libya.

There are now an estimated 1,700 different armed groups including state-affiliated forces and individual militias – among them Islamist groups – operating in the country.

At the weekend a British Embassy convoy came under fire in an attempted carjacking.

Nobody was injured.The country is falling to pieces. I am less worried about businesses and more about the people

Belfast Telegraph