Libya: Whether the government of Libya, particularly the Ministry of Labour and Rehabilitation, engages in programs to sponsor former soldiers or militants to study or receive medical treatment in Canada
1. Libyans Studying Abroad
According to a 2014 article in Al-Fanar Media, a bi-weekly newsletter in English and Arabic focused on higher education in the Arab world (Al-Fanar Media n.d.), there are more than 20,000 Libyans receiving government scholarships to study abroad, including 5,700 enrolled at universities and professional certificate programs in the UK, US and elsewhere (Al-Fanar Media 9 July 2014). The same sources indicate that there have been some administrative problems with these scholarships, including delayed payments and stipends (Al-Fanar Media).
2. Programs Sponsoring Formers Soldiers to Study Abroad
Several sources report that the Libyan government has engaged in programs to sponsor former soldiers to study abroad (Al-Fanar Media 9 July 2014; Libya-Business News 2 Sept. 2013; PIE 13 May 2013).
An article on the Professionals in International Education (PIE) News website, a "media, recruitment and consultancy platform" that reports on the international education industry (PIE News n.d.), describes the Warriors Affairs Commission (WAC) as "a government-backed body founded to give educational opportunities to individuals who fought in the war" (PIE News 13 May 2013). According to an article published by Al-Fanar Media, the WAC "was established at the end of the civil war to transition former revolutionaries into civic life" (Al-Fanar Media 9 July 2014). The same source notes that WAC works with Libya's Higher Education Ministry "to place former fighters in foreign academic programs" and that a March 2014 decree offered this opportunity to 5,000 ex-combatants as part of an earlier promise by the Prime Minister to send as many as 18,000 abroad to study (Al-Fanar Media 9 July 2014). Two sources indicate that the Libyan government announced in September 2013 that they would send 5,000 former revolutionaries to study abroad (Randall 1 Apr. 2015; Libya-Business News 2 Sept. 2013). Sources further quote the Director of WAC as stating that the program is aimed at moving Libya "'from [a] military era to one of knowledge and construction of the country'" (Libya-Business News 2 Sept. 2013; Randall 1 Apr. 2015). The same source explained that "[a]ll towns and regions would be included in the programme but priority would be given to former revolutionaries with an existing diploma and those now disabled as a result of injuries sustained during the fighting" (Libya Business News 2 Sept. 2013).
According to a 2016 article in Al-Monitor, a media source that provides "reporting and analysis by prominent journalists and experts from the Middle East" (Al-Monitor n.d.), the WAC was later transformed into the Libyan Program for Reintegration and Development (LPRD) (Al-Monitor 1 Mar. 2016). In April 2014, Al Jazeera reported that Libya's veterans' affairs agency was renamed the LPRD; the new organization was granted "more powers," and has an executive board composed of undersecretaries from other ministries (Al-Jazeera 24 Apr. 2014). The same source stated that the LPRD offers study abroad opportunities, as well as funding for small and medium projects to integrate former revolutionaries into all institutions of the government (Al Jazeera 24 Apr. 2014). Al Jazeera Al-Jazeera further noted that the LPRD's reintegration plan gives priority to former soldiers but also offers opportunities to all Libyan youth (Al Jazeera 24 Apr. 2014).
3. Libyan Students in Canada
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official at the Embassy of Canada in Tunisia indicated that the Libyan government had a "very active international student program" managed by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) (Canada 25 May 2016). According to the website of CBIE, an NGO with the mission of "advancing Canadian international education by creating and mobilizing expertise, knowledge, opportunity and leadership" (CBIE n.d.), between 2010 and September 2015, over 1,400 Libyan students graduated from educational institutions in North America and, as of September 2015, there were 2,000 Libyan students studying in the US and Canada through the Libyan-North American Scholarship Program (CBIE 30 Sept. 2015). According to CBIE, it manages the scholarship program in cooperation with the Libyan Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Libyan Central Bank, and the Libyan Audit Bureau, who provide the funds for tuition, health insurance premiums and living allowances (CBIE 1 Feb. 2016). Information on whether former soldiers sponsored by the WAC or the LPRD participate in the Libya-North America Scholarship Program could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official at the Embassy of Libya in Ottawa stated that the LPRD funded and sent 83 students to Canada to study the English language for one year, but that their study period ended on 31 December 2015 (Libya 17 May 2016). The same source indicated that there is also a separate program sponsored by the Libyan Ministry of Defence funding 52 military students to study in Canada; the Libyan Military Office in Paris transfers financial entitlements to the students, while the Embassy of Libya in Ottawa pays the students' health insurance expenses (Libya 17 May 2016).
4. Programs Sponsoring Former Soldiers for Medical Treatment Abroad
Without providing details, the official at the Embassy of Libya noted that there was formerly a program in which soldiers and civilians who were injured during the Libyan Revolution received medical treatment in Canada, but that, as of May 2016, all of the patients had "finished their treatment and left Canada" (Libya 17 May 2016). The Canadian embassy official provided the following information about the Libyan Medical Evacuee Project:
The Libyan Medical Evacuee Project was established following the 2011 crisis in Libya. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development initiated the project in 2011 in conjunction with the Libyan Medical Committee in Canada (LMCC). The committee is an agent of the Libyan Government, which was formerly known as the National Transitional Council. The LMCC signed an agreement with a division of the University Health Network to provide care for a maximum of 100 Libyan patients. The costs of the care were paid by the Libyan Medical Committee in Canada. CIC [Citizenship and Immigration Canada]’s sole point of contact was the University Health Network during processing of Temporary Resident Visas/Permits for patients.
Starting in 2012, CIC agreed to facilitate Temporary Resident Visa applications for the project and to expedite processing if and when all necessary documents were submitted with an application.
- The project was established to provide medical care for people fighting for the National Transitional Council in Libya during the 2011 crisis.
- As of March 31, 2015, 79 Libyan foreign nationals have received medical treatment in Canada under the project
The project ended in 2015. (Canada 25 May 2016)
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Al-Fanar Media. 9 July 2014. John Dyer, Mohamed Elmeshad, and Reda Fhelboom. "Libyan Scholarship Program Is Chaotic at Times." [Accessed 12 May 2016]
Al-Fanar Media. N.d. "About Al-Fanar Media." [Accessed 17 May 2016]
Al-Jazeera. 24 April 2014. "Libya Rebamps Veterans Affairs Body to Boost Rebel Integration." (Factiva)
Al-Monitor. 1 March 2016. Christine Ptré. "Why Is It So Hard to Reintegrate Libyan Fighters into Society?" [Accessed 20 Apr. 2016]
Al-Monitor. N.d. "About." [Accessed 20 Apr. 2016]
Canada. 25 May 2016. Embassy of Canada in Tunisia. Correspondence from an official.
Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). 1 February 2016. "Libyan-North American Scholarship Program Update." [Accessed 16 May 2016]
Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). 30 September 2015. "Libyan-North American Scholarship Program Update." [Accessed 16 May 2016]
Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). N.d. "Our Mission, Vision, and Values." [Accessed 19 May 2016]
Libya. 17 May 2016. Embassy of Libya in Ottawa. Correspondence from an official to the Research Directorate.
Libya-Business News. 2 September 2013. "5,000 Revolutionaries to Study Abroad." [Accessed 20 Apr. 2016]
The Professionals in International Education (PIE) News. 13 May 2013. Sara Custer. "Libya Scholarship to Send 40,000 Abroad." [Accessed 9 May 2016]
The Professionals in International Education (PIE) News. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 17 May 2016]
Randall, Edward. 1 April 2015. "After Qadhafi: Development and Democratization in Libya." Middle East Journal. Vol. 69, No. 2.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Canada – Canadian Border and Security Agency; Canadian Bureau for International Education.
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Factiva; Human Rights Watch; IRIN; Libya - Embassy of Libya in Washington DC; UN - Refworld, Support Mission in Libya; US - Embassy of the US in Libya.