Today, the Mayor of Benghazi, Mr. Saqur Bojouari, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mr. Marc-André Franche, inaugurated the newly rehabilitated Civil Society Centre in Benghazi. The Centre will provide a space for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to gather and conduct activities, promoting local peacebuilding initiatives, and empowering women, youth, and vulnerable populations.
Following a participatory approach, the Municipality and local civil society organizations selected the historical Al Manar Palace of Benghazi, previously used as a vocational school, to be rehabilitated into the new Civil Society Centre. The monument, damaged in September 2016 by the conflict, is considered a landmark and symbol of all Libyans, located in Old Benghazi, the heart of Benghazi City.
The rehabilitation of the new Centre is part of UNDP’s local peacebuilding and resilience efforts, through the EU-funded Baladiyati programme. The Civil Society Commission will manage and maintain it, providing a space for CSOs to gather and implement their peacebuilding activities, accommodating up to 1,500 people.
“This building is of utmost importance, as it is one of the oldest buildings with a certain symbolism in the history of Libya and the city of Benghazi, and from here, King Idris Al-Senussi addressed the Libyans during his reign. We are proud to have played a part in its rehabilitation, thus allowing Civil Society Organizations to conduct activities that will contribute to the city’s advancement.”
UNDP Resident Representative Marc-André Franche further stated: “Today marks a key step towards the recovery of the Old Benghazi, I am thankful to the Municipality of Benghazi, the Mayor, the Heritage Cities Authorities, the citizens of Benghazi, the European Union, and all those who have been involved in making the Civil Society Centre a reality. Civil Society Organizations are powerful platforms promoting local peace initiatives and empowering women, youth, and vulnerable populations. We are convinced that this new space for civil society organizations will serve as a space to foster even more ideas and initiatives that will not benefit the community of Benghazi and inspire other cities.”
UNDP has been supporting the Municipality of Benghazi since 2017 to deliver critical services to all citizens, including health, education, water and sanitation, and recreational spaces to enhance trust between citizens and local government. UNDP has also been empowering CSOs through a capacity-building programme. As a result, nearly 800 citizens of Benghazi have been engaged in activities such as filmmaking, awareness campaigns, and peacebuilding workshops.
The Benghazi Civil Society Centre was rehabilitated as part of the EU funded “Baladiyati” programme implemented by UNDP, the Italian Development Agency (AICS) and UNICEF. The €50 million “Recovery, Stability and Socio-economic Development Programme” currently works with 24 municipalities across Libya with the aim of improving people’s access to quality public services such as education, health, water and sanitation. The programme is funded by the European Union through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, to improve living conditions and build resilience among vulnerable populations, including migrants, refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees and host communities.