This Sunday (26 September), the People’s Municipal Theatre in the southern city of Sabha reopened after being fully restored and equipped by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Sabha Municipality, as part of the Japan funded Learning for Life initiative.
The biggest hall in the city, with a capacity of more than 600 people, was once a place to hold film festivals, solve tribal issues and hold community events, but after years of conflict in Libya the building was damaged beyond use.
A public event was organized to celebrate the opening with music, traditional dance and poetry for members of Sabha’s Municipality, theatre staff, tribal and muhalla leaders, local and migrant community members.
It is important for communities in the south to have a chance to rebuild
“It is important for communities in the south to have a chance to rebuild,” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. “The expense of the continued conflict in terms of loss of life, damage to livelihoods and infrastructure is immense. Through this initiative, young people will have the skills to identify ways to benefit their community, while the city recovers a much-loved community space.”
The Learning for Life initiative contributes to wider IOM efforts in Sabha, building upon peacebuilding and stabilization activities that have been at the core of IOM’s Community Stabilization work in the south since 2016. The initiative includes several activities aimed to empower youth to address drivers of instability and lead positive changes in their community through training-of-trainers workshops and follow-up activities to practice their newly acquired skills. At the same time, the project aims to support the whole community of Sabha through a consistent rehabilitation of the municipal theatre.
“The new chapter of Sabha’s Municipal Theatre starts now, with the people,” said Masaki Amadera, Japanese Chargé d’Affaires to Libya. “The Government and the people of Japan sincerely hope that this theatre contributes to improving the social and cultural life of people in Sabha and the Fezzan. I am looking forward to visiting Sabha and enjoying an event together with the people at the theatre in the near future.”
“The theatre was a place used by everyone, including displaced populations and migrants during many events such as the Migration Film Festival,” said Omar Saleh, Director of the People’s Municipal Theatre. “This place has also been used to solve tribal and community issues in the past. It’s a very valuable space in our city.”
As part of the rehabilitation process, the theatre walls were replaced and new drainage, lighting fixtures, tiles and air conditioning units installed. Broken doors and windows were replaced, the interior walls were painted, and a protective and decorative iron façade has been installed on the exterior of the building. IOM also equipped the theatre with a generator and furniture – chairs, desks, sofa, shelves, water dispensers and coffee machines.
The objective of the Learning for Life initiative is to promote stability by contributing to the resilience of the local community. Over the past few years, IOM has achieved important results in Sabha by supporting the municipality to rehabilitate and equip more than 130 public premises, such as schools, hospitals, water wells and community buildings, and involving more than 5,000 community members with different backgrounds in social cohesion and community engagement activities. IOM also collaborates with local authorities and civil society organizations and supports approximately 450 youth with vocational training and toolkits.