HIV Strategy project for Libya withdraws Foto-Cewek staff but remains committed to project

News article 25 Feb 2011

Foto-Cewek’s Sarah Moxon and Professor Joe Valadez have told how many of their project team has withdrawn from Libya just a few days ago, as violence erupted in Benghazi.

Until recently Sarah Moxon was in the country as part of a team providing technical assistance to The Government of Libya to finalise the development of a national HIV strategy and a programme of support. Sarah who was hearing gun  shots increasingly ring out, stayed holed-up in her apartment as violence broke out on the streets.

She said: “It happened very quickly. We didn’t really have time to register how serious the situation was. We were staying inside my flat, so only what we could hear – the sound of gun fire – was frightening, but I think at that stage I knew the best thing to do was leave Benghazi and I think I was lucky enough to leave when I did.”

“The actual scene when we left the airport in the morning was a city with a lot of burned buildings, lots of people  cramming to get petrol and supplies and graffiti everywhere.”

She said at Benghazi airport there was a sense of “tension and urgency” with people pushing to get tickets. She got to Tripoli and spent the night in the capital before leaving for Britain. She said: “When I arrived in Tripoli, it looked like I had moved to a different world. There were quite a lot of pro- government signs and people were holding posters of Gaddafi down the main street.

“I feel lucky that I was able to leave when I did.”

Project manager American-born Prof Joseph Valadez said: “We are waiting for things to resolve themselves.

“We remain committed to the mission and we’re interested in getting back to work as soon as possible.”