Benghazi Port Still Closed, Imports Rerouted
The commercial port in Libya's second city, Benghazi, remains closed due to fighting between pro-government and Islamist forces, forcing wheat imports to make a detour via Tobruk harbour, a port official said.
Benghazi has been a battlefield since May, when former army general Khalifa Haftar declared war on Islamist fighters who had been roaming unchallenged.
Its commercial port was still closed for wheat and other imports, a port official said. "Some wheat imports, though in small quantities, come via Tobruk," he said.
Tobruk lies some 600 km (375 miles) to the east of Benghazi near the border with Egypt. It has much better security and its home to the country's elected parliament, which fled Tripoli after a rival group seized the capital in August.
Trucks also bring food from Egypt, though Egyptian authorities sometimes close the main crossing and advise their nationals not to travel further than Tobruk. Some smaller Libyan ports under government control, such as Bayda, remain open.
Benghazi is symptomatic of the turmoil in the oil-producing country, three years after the revolution that toppled long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Haftar merged his fighters with army special forces to start a new offensive in mid-October, and now controls much of the port city. But fighting has continued for more than a month in the port area where Haftar says Islamists are holed up.
Libya has limited food production and has to import everything from wheat, which it buys from Europe and the Americas, to juice and dairy products. (Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli