Conflict & Justice

One Woman's Story of Surviving Libya's Civil War


Hutaf Shanna near her home in Tripoli, Feb 27th 2012 (Photo: Thibaut Cavailles)

"One of my sisters, who's abroad at the moment, she's planning to come back within the next two days, so that if we're going to die, we're going to die altogether." Those were the words of Hutaf Shanna, speaking to The World's Lisa Mullins one year ago.

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Hutaf was speaking from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as Colonel Gaddafi clamped down violently on demonstrations in the city, and the country began its descent into civil war.

Hutaf used a false name, Arwa, to protect her identity. For the same reason, she didn't tell us she worked for the British embassy, or the fact that she was eight months pregnant. Now Hutaf brings us up to date.

"It was a big concern for me and my family, and my husband specifically," she says, "how he would get me to the hospital." Gas was scarce, but her family managed to get a couple of gallons at 100 times the normal cost.

Then there was a war on. "When my husband took me to the hospital in the morning, we saw tanks, around the airport road."

"It was very stressful for us," Hutaf says, "thinking, if we get to the hospital, will be able to get out?"

In the end, she delivered her baby, Maria, safely on April 19th.

Her family was lucky. They all survived the war. Tens of thousands of Libyans did not.

Hutaf is now back at work, and full of confidence for the future and for her daughter, growing up in the new Libya.

"I am very excited to see how Libya would look like in the next five years."