- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2011

QUEBEC CITY | Libyan students studying in the U.S. and Canada will begin receiving their scholarship money after the funds had been cut off under international sanctions against their home country.

Libya’s Ministry of Education and Scientific Research has transferred funds to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) to pay for the scholarships of Libyan students studying in North America.
The money will cover monthly allowances, health insurance and tuition up to the end of May 2012.

Karen McBride, CBIE president and CEO, said “vigorous behind-the-scenes efforts of government officials in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the United Nations Security Council” had been instrumental in the transfer of funds.

“The Libyan Ministry of Education and Scientific Research is to be credited for its commitment to ensuring the continuation of this important educational program at a tremendously challenging point in time,” Ms. McBride said.
There are about 2,000 Libyan students in the U.S. and 500 in Canada. Many of them are accompanied by their families, putting the total number of affected Libyans at about 4,000.

The stipends, paid for with Libyan money, had been blocked due to a U.N. Security Council resolution that froze Libyan assets in an attempt to increase pressure on Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

The U.S. Treasury Department also has frozen $34 billion of the Gadhafi regime’s assets.

However, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a license to CBEI authorizing unblocked Libyan funds to be used for the students in North America.

In May, CBIE, which manages the international scholarship program with the Libyan Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, informed the students it did not have enough money to cover their tuition beyond the end of the month.

CBIE was able to pay for the students’ health insurance through June after some universities waived their tuition fees. But there was not enough money to cover dental insurance.

Students risked losing their visas and being deported if they were unable to pay their tuition. Sanctions on Libya also made it difficult for them to have their families send money to pay for their education.

Many students have participated in demonstrations in the U.S. and Canada against the Gadhafi regime and feared for their lives if they were forced to return to Libya. They also were forced to cut back on expenses.

Two students, who spoke to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity, said it had been hard to make these cuts because the stipends themselves were not enough to cover the expenses of raising their young families.

• Ashish Kumar Sen can be reached at asen@washingtontimes.com.

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