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Joy, closure and reflection in Misrata

Libya, October 20, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Matt Streng/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Kids in Misrata reacting to news of Qaddafi's death. Photo: Matt Streng/Mercy Corps

Nobody expected that it would be like this. However, as the news and rumors started trickling in about the capture of Qaddafi in the early afternoon, the whole town of Misurata exploded into a joyous mood. The streets, usually calmer in the afternoon, suddenly filled up with parades of women and children carrying the Libyan flag, crying out "Allah u Akbar!" Cars honking with happy children hanging out of the windows and young people driving fast screaming congratulations to their friends and passersby. Sweets were distributed in the office.

At one point in the office, however, several people broke down into tears as they realized that this was the moment they imagined would bring the closure they were looking for.

Many of the people in Misurata, including staff working for Mercy Corps, have lost family members or friends to the conflict.

"It will be difficult," one of the Mercy Corps staff came up to me and said quietly. "We have been waiting for this for a long time; tonight will be good, but tomorrow will bring a deep unhappiness as all the people will remember and recount the price they had to pay for freedom, and will pay in the coming months while they look after their wounded, both physically and psychologically and mourn the martyrs." In the celebrations and the sounds of happy fire is the indication that lots of work lies ahead in building back communities tormented in the freedom struggle.