A Sylvan Lake family who fled the fighting in Libya is praying for the friends they left behind in that country.
Marc Reed, his wife Jennifer and their four children Peyton, 10, Ethan, eight, Noah, five, and Piper, two-and-a-half, left Janzour, Libya on Feb. 22.
Janzour is about 25 km east of Tripoli and 200 km west of Misrata, a city that has been under attack by Moammar Gadhafi’s army for nearly two months.
“Right now my friends are safe and our belongings are safe, but for how much longer. It’s anyone’s call,” Marc Reed said on Wednesday.
Gadhafi is a “crazy man” who will continue to fight until he’s got nothing left, he said.
The family moved to Janzour in October where Reed, a manager with oil tool company Canuck Completions of Sylvan Lake, had worked on rotation for three years.
“We kind of wanted a fresh start, try something different. We thought it would be a good opportunity for the children to see a different culture.”
They planned to stay for four years but had to leave after only five months when civil war broke out between Gadhafi’s army and rebel forces.
Reed said they spent about nine hours at the Tripoli airport on Feb. 21 trying to leave the country. Most of the flights were cancelled by the government.
During their 25-km drive back home to Janzour, they saw Gadhafi’s troops on the roads, warships on the horizon and military aircraft in the sky. Gunfire and explosions could be heard in the distance.
When they returned to the airport the next day, even more people were clamouring to get out of the country.
“It’s a very small airport and there was probably about 3,000 people trying to get out at the same time. We were outside about two hours trying to get in. We just kept getting pushed back.”
With some help, the family made it through the crowd. Inside the airport, the military was using force to maintain order, Reed said.
“They were pushing you back with sticks and throwing you down and pushing you out of the way. Women were getting trampled. It was chaotic.”
His family was unharmed.
The Reeds left Libya expecting to be able to return in a few weeks.
Now they are in limbo as fighting continues.
They sold their Sylvan Lake home when they moved to Libya and shipped their furniture to the North African country in a sea can.
“We’re at the in-laws right now with six suitcases,” said Reed, whose family is currently living with relatives in Rocky Mountain House.
“It’s kind of like having a fire and losing all your stuff. We don’t know if we’ll get it back or not.”
Reed said Libya has become his second home, having worked there for a few years. He misses the friendly people he has met the most.
“They don’t have as much as we do, but they have no worries. They love their lives. They don’t worry about the small stuff. It’s very relaxing. The way of life is a lot more simpler.”
Reed said people are getting slaughtered and the international community likely can’t rely on air strikes alone to defeat Gadhafi’s army.
“(Gadhafi) needs to be taken out of power and there’s only one way to do it — that’s ground warfare.”
But it’s also something countries want to try and avoid, he said.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see another Iraq or Afghanistan.”