East Libya Bans 18-45-Year-Olds From Traveling Abroad

Libya revolution anniversary
Libyans take part in a celebration marking the sixth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, which toppled strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi, in Benghazi on February 17. Since Qaddafi's demise, Libya has been split by rival governments. ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/Getty

The military administration in eastern Libya has banned men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 from traveling abroad without explicit permission, a week after introducing a ban on women traveling alone.

The chief of staff in the eastern Libyan government, Abdel-Razek al-Nadhouri, said the measure was imposed to prevent people from joining terrorist networks abroad, the BBC reported.

Libyans who wish to to travel outside the country will now require permits from the ministry of interior or intelligence agency in the administration.

Libya has several rival governments competing for power: There is a U.N.-backed administration, known as the Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, while the eastern government is backed by the Libyan army and overseen by Khalifa Haftar, a top military general. A third administration has recently emerged in Tripoli, calling itself the National Salvation Government.

Al-Nadhouri announced an order on February 16 banning women under 60 from traveling abroad without a male companion. The chief of staff said women were being used as spies under the guise of working for civil society groups, but women's rights activists in Libya denounced the move.

The eastern government backtracked and suspended the order on Tuesday, following a meeting between al-Nadhouri and the director of eastern Libya's civil society commission, Abir Mneina, the BBC reported. But now the eastern administration has broadened the scope of travel restrictions in the country.

Since the toppling of longtime leader Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in a state of instability, with rival factions competing for political control and militias multiplying across the country. The chaos has allowed militant groups to take root in the country, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS,) although forces allied to the U.N.-backed Tripoli government recently liberated the coastal city of Sirte, which was ISIS's main stronghold in Libya.