Brega is Libya’s wealthiest region thanks to the oil industry. And yet its residents are among the poorest in Libya.
Many here are unemployed. Under [former Libyan leader] Muammar Gaddafi, refineries only hired workers from the capital, Tripoli, or from Sirte, which was Gaddafi’s home base. Nowadays, some local residents from Brega have been hired, but there are still very few.
Those employees who come from the western part of Libya get employer-paid housing. These prefabricated houses come fully equipped and furnished. In contrast, the workers from Brega have no such advantages, allegedly because they already live here and have housing.
Here, people live in slums. Often, several families live in two or three rooms without running water or electricity.
Many houses and shops were destroyed during the war. Gaddafi’s troops were based here during the fighting to protect the oil refineries. As a result, the city was bombed and also saw very violent combat
. The destroyed homes were never rebuilt. Some tried to rebuild their houses with whatever materials they could find, but often lacked the means to finish the job.
The worst part is that the headquarters of Libya’s national oil company [the National Oil Corporation], which used to be located in Benghazi during the Gaddafi era, was moved to Tripoli following the revolution. The government cannot help marginalized regions to develop if they move everything to the capital.