If the Jeopardy answer is “Libya today.” What might be the question?
What could be worse than Libya under Muammar Gaddafi?
There’s nothing funny about the reality of life today in Libya, but almost all the burdens fall directly on the people who are living there. But some of those people, not the Libyan citizens but the migrants trying to get to Europe have become an international problem, and so has the persistence of fragments of the Islamic State, it’s Islamist ideology and small groups of fighters.
In pursuit of those stories, PBS’ Newshour commissioned Special Correspondent Christopher Livesay to go to Libya, report on the plight of migrants bottlenecked on their trek towards Europe, and see what can be learned of the present state of the Islamic State in Libya.
Months of logistical planning and diplomatic begging finally secured a plan and the necessary government permissions to fulfill it. At least in theory.
Once in Libya, Livesay found paper permissions were trumped by aggressive on-scene minders and any venture into neighborhoods of Tripoli could cost you your life. So, it was authoritatively mentioned, could trying to leave the country.
All of which taught Chris a lot about his stories: the lives of marooned migrants, the powers of random armed militias, and the reality of a Libya tortured by the self-serving fantasies of posturing politicians across Europe.
Christopher Livesay is an award-winning foreign correspondent and producer based in Rome. His recent work focuses on populism, terrorism, and foreign affairs. He has contributed to the prestigious documentary series PBS FRONTLINE on veteran exploitation in the United States; NPR on underground rock music in Iran; and VICE News on mafia blood feuds in Italy.
Filing for PBS and NPR in 2016, he was among the first reporters on the scene of a powerful earthquake that killed nearly 300 people outside Rome.
Later that year, he was among the first journalists to report from Mosul, as Iraqi special forces fought the Islamic State.
In 2017 he won a United Nations award for his TV reporting on the European migrant crisis.