The Libyan government will settle half of the 150-million-euro bill for the care of rebel fighters in Greece and will only release the remainder of the money once it is satisfied there has not been any over-charging, according to the country’s charge d’affaires in Athens.
Greek and Libyan authorities have been in negotiations for two months about the payment of the outstanding amount, which covers the costs of hospitals, hotels, travel agencies and other services for fighters transported to Greece for treatment.
“We recognize debts of about 150 million euros toward various bodies, hospitals, hotels and two travel agencies that took part in the program,” Usama Eleyan, the charge d’affaires at the Libyan Embassy told the Athens News Agency. “Some 5,500 wounded were treated in Greece through this program. Today, there are between 350 and 500 wounded left in Greece. We are sure that the money will be released soon so everyone can be paid.”
Eleyan suggested that a panel appointed by the National Transition Council of Libya would visit Greece to check the paperwork for the care provided to the injured soldiers before the remainder of the money is released.
In May, Kathimerini reported that Greek hospitals were owed about 20 million euros for the treatment they provided. Bills had not been paid since last November, when the new Libyan government took over responsibility for paying them. Until then, the costs had been paid by Qatar.
According to the Attica Hotel Association (AHA), city hoteliers are owed about 17 million euros, while hotels in the northern port of Thessaloniki are owed some 9.5 million euros. In the capital, 13 hotels have joined the initiative to accommodate Libyan fighters. AHA President Alexandros Vassilikos noted that the influx of wounded fighters into Greece, and their extended stay in Athens, “has been a significant boost to hotels which in the middle of a recession, with a slump in tourism and general instability, were not only open to such a cooperation but in absolute need of it.” In Thessaloniki, 16 hotels are accommodating nearly 200 Libyans but many are said to be struggling financially.