Libya

Situation Report

Highlights

  • While more than 40,000 have returned home since June, over 392,000 people remain displaced.
  • In 2020, more than 101,000 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Libya.
  • This year 11,900 migrants and refugees were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya; most to detention.
  • More than 403,000 people reached with assistance in 2020.
Tawerghan IDP woman making break to sell, Sport City spontaneous settlement, Benghazi (OCHA)
Tawerghan IDP woman making break to sell, Sport City spontaneous settlement, Benghazi (OCHA)

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Libya

Situation Report

Key Figures

1M
People in need
0.3M
People targeted
392k
People displaced in Libya
585k
Migrants and refugees in Libya
403k
People reached

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Libya

Situation Report

Funding

$129.8M
Required
$116.5M
Received
90%
Progress
FTS

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Contacts

Justin Brady

Head of Office

Jennifer Bose Ratka

Public Information Officer

Libya

Situation Report
Analysis

Insecurity, displacement and protection risks continued

Conflict and insecurity remained the main drivers of displacement across the country and hindered people’s ability to return to their homes. While lines of control remained largely static in the first half of 2020, escalations in fighting, particularly around Abu Qurayn, Sirt and Tajoura increased the number of people displaced, to 426,000 people by June. However, the situation changed following the Government of National Accord (GNA) and aligned forces’ retaking cities along the coastal road and regaining control of Tripoli and nearby cities, eventually leading to an agreed ceasefire in October. Since re-taking control of Tripoli more than 44,000 people have returned, particularly to southern areas of the capital. However, a significant constraint on the rate of returns remains the presence of explosive hazards. Contaminated areas, mostly in the southern neighbourhoods, present a significant risk to the safe return and remaining residents and has led to 206 casualties (73 killed and 133 injured) since May 2020, of which 136 were civilians. Non-civilian casualties were predominantly explosive ordnance disposal personnel. The indiscriminate use of heavy weaponry has also caused further damage to houses and other civilian infrastructure that remain in disprepair.

The protection environment in Libya remains weak. In addition to the increased use of heavy weapons in populated areas, other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the course of the conflict continued with virtual impunity. Summary executions and other unlawful killings, abductions, the occurrence of GBV and other forms of abuse, as well as widespread human trafficking continued. In 2020, 34 conflict-related incidents, including direct attacks, were recorded on hospitals, health care workers, ambulances and medical supplies, killing at least eight people and injuring 23 others.

Violations of the rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers have been documented in official and unofficial places of detention, as well as outside detention facilities. For IDPs, migrants, and refugees, a lack of legal documentation also resulted in unmet needs, particularly their ability to access education and health services. Underreporting of GBV continued, attributed to the fear of reprisals, widespread stigma, entrenched gender-based discrimination, including in national legislation and cultural practice, and limited legal protection and available services for survivors.

Migrants and refugees continued to be some of the most vulnerable people in Libya, with the country remaining a destination for migrants and a major transit country for migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. The number of migrants in Libya declined in 2020, particularly since the onset of COVID-19. The economic downturn, including plummeting income-generating opportunities for migrant workers, tightened security controls and mobility restrictions due to COVID-19 are the key factors that have contributed to the reduction in the number of migrants. An estimated 80,000 migrants have left Libya since the start of the pandemic, mainly to neighbouring countries. Despite this, more than 574,000 migrants and refugees remain, where they continue to be at risk of killing, torture, arbitrary detention, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour, extortion and exploitation. Of particular concern are those held in detention, where conditions of severe overcrowding and insufficient access to food, clean water and sanitation and human rights violation are regularly reported. In 2020, more than 11,900 people were rescued/intercepted at sea, an increase of 29 per cent compared to 2019. Of those returned to Libya, the majority are taken to detention, where between 1,000-3,000 migrants and refugees are held in official detention centres at any one point, although many other migrants and refugees are believed to be held at other sites run by militias and trafficking groups.

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Libya

Situation Report
Visual

Monthly disembarkation trends: 2019 and 2020 (IOM)

Monthly disembarkation trends: 2019 and 2020 (IOM)

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Libya

Situation Report
Analysis

COVID-19 spreads across the country, overwhelming the health system

Following the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in Libya on 24 March, the country has seen a steep increase in the number of confirmed cases. At the end of year, Libya had recorded 100,746 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,487 deaths, according to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Every mantika (province) has reported confirmed cases, with Tripoli, Misrata and Jabal al Gharbi municipalities reporting the largest number of confirmed cases with Sebha and Benghazi reporting lower numbers of confirmed cases, although that is largely due to the lower number of tests conducted in those cities due to a lack of supplies.

An acute shortage of testing kits and cartridges, adequate health facilities to isolate and treat confirmed cases and a limited ability to conduct contact tracing has further obscured the full scale. According to testing, by the end of the year, Libya had 1,479 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population, which was the highest in the North African region, with 22 deaths per 100,000 population, second only to Tunisia in the region.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, national and local authorities introduced a series of preventive measures, including curfews, the temporary closure of all air, land and sea borders, restrictions on movement between municipalities, suspension of large gatherings and the closure of schools.

The capacity of the health system to effectively respond to the pandemic was negatively affected by more than nine years of conflict. Of the remaining health facilities open in 2019, half were closed in 2020, especially in rural areas, mainly due to security threats and insufficient government funding. Health facilities that remained open did not have enough supplies, equipment or human resources to care for COVID-19 patients while also maintaining routine health services. Many healthcare staff refused to report for duty because they had no personal protective equipment or because salaries had not been paid. Many hospitals across the country regularly suspended operations due to high rates of COVID-19 infection among staff and patients or due to a lack of supplies, or electricity.

The UN and humanitarian partners scaled up to support the authorities in responding to COVID-19 by supporting increased capacity for lab testing, contact tracing and case treatment through deployment of emergency medical teams, as well as training health Rapid Response Teams. Partners continued to provide essential COVID-19 supplies, including testing kits and personal protective equipment, as well as capacity-building and training of health staff. This includes technical support and recommendations on strengthening case management by mapping isolation centres, updating and disseminating COVID-19 guidelines, supporting triage centres/isolation centers and emergency mobile teams, and establishing COVID-19 treatment units in public hospitals in addition to isolation centres. Partners also supported with sterilization, fumigation and disinfection at displacement sites, migrant detention centres, hospitals and schools, as well as at disembarkation and border points. Hygiene kits were also provided to vulnerable and low-income households.

There was a significant scaling up of risk education and community awareness raising, including support of national and regional campaigns. The UN and partners disseminated more than 300,000 posters and other communication means, including social and mass media reaching about 4.8 million people. COVID-19 risk communication activities also targeted specific vulnerable groups and at-risk locations, such as displaced people in collective shelters, migrants in official detention centres, health facilities, points of entry and disembarkation points, as well as healthcare staff and personnel working in such locations.

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Libya

Situation Report
Visual

COVID-19 lab tests and confirmed cases by month (NCDC/WHO)

COVID-19 lab tests and confirmed cases by month (NCDC/WHO)

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Libya

Situation Report
Analysis

Living conditions and public services continued to deteriorate

The indirect impacts of COVID-19 also have had a significant impact on people’s livelihoods and living conditions. COVID-19, along with insecurity and a blockade of the oil sector for most of the year, further debilitated the already weak economic situation. The ability of many people to afford rent, as well as to cover other basic needs, was further weakened.

Border closures, disrupted trade, movement restrictions and curfews saw increase in prices of essential food and goods coupled with reduced availability in the market. While prices began to reduced following a peak in early May, where prices were 23 per cent above pre-COVID levels, by the end of November they remained 16 per cent above pre-COVID levels, according to the joint market monitoring compiled by REACH. Higher prices for food and other basic commodities were compounded by the impact of curfews and lockdown measures that also affected people’s access to work and livelihoods, further eroding people’s living standards.

Throughout the year, regular disruptions to water and electricity were reported across the country, sometimes for up to 18 hours per day. These were the result of a fuel and energy crisis, lack of maintenance and deliberate attacks on infrastructure by armed groups. In addition to stretching people’s coping capacities, the outages affected the operations of health facilities and made it more difficult for communities to follow preventative protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In the second half of the year thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the deteriorating living conditions.

While schools started to re-open, first in the east from 5 December and in the west from 2 January, the prolonged closure put additional pressure and stress on parents and caregivers, particularly women, who disproportionately carry the burden of providing home-schooling and managing the negative impact of confinement and curfew on children. While distance learning, through television and online platforms, were implemented to continue children’s education, the 2020 Multi-Sector Needs Assessment found that 81 per cent of students enrolled in school were unable to access these resources. Prior to the closure of schools due to COVID-19, many schools in and around Tripoli were closed due to the proximity to armed clashes or shelling, including 16 schools in the frontline areas of Ain Zara and Suq Aljumaa that were closed for four consecutive months. The phased re-opening enables children to safely return to school while adhering to strict COVID-19 controls and prevention measures.

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Libya

Situation Report
Analysis
HRP reached

Humanitarian partners reach more than 400,000 people with assistance

As humanitarian access continued to improve throughout the latter half of the year (see access article), humanitarian organizations have reached more than 403,000 people with humanitarian assistance by the end of November. This represents 116 per cent of those targeted by partners in the 2020 HRP.

The increase in the number of people reached with assistance can be attributed to a higher number of non-displaced Libyans that were reached than targeted for assistance. This included activities related to the provision of school-aged children feeding meals, which were continued despite school closures, as well as non-displaced Libyans reached with food assistance and health services at primary and secondary levels, primarily associated with COVID-19 response.

Assistance was provided to more than 86,000 internally displaced people, nearly 43,000 returnees, 184,000 vulnerable and conflict-affected Libyans, as well as 54,000 migrants and 36,000 refugees.

Among those assisted, humanitarian partners reached 125,000 people with unconditional food assistance and 19,000 children received take home rations. More than 106,000 people were assisted with non-food items and 3,300 people with shelter support. Health partners continued to increase access to health services, providing more than 226,000 medical procedures and 70,000 people benefited from access to water, sanitation and hygiene items or services. More than 107,000 people received specialized protection services or awareness raising activities, including gender-based violence and child protection services, and psychosocial support. Mine Action partners also cleared nearly 3,600 explosive hazards, explosive ordnance disposal spot tasks and battle area clearance.

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Libya

Situation Report
Feature
Awareness and PSS session in AlSeka detention centre, Tripoli (UNFPA)

16 Days of Activism Against GBV in Libya

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a global campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence. It takes place annually from 25 November (International Day Against Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day), `which emphasizes that GBV is a violation of human rights.

In Libya this year, under the slogan “everyone has a role to play” (#EveryoneHasRoleToPlay) and the lead of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the 16 Days Campaign focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the life of people in vulnerable situations, highlighting the increase in the risk of GBV and calling for action to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of women and girls.

The campaign engaged Libyan civil society organizations and activists, TV channels and radio stations, youth networks and the Libyan Ministry of Social Affairs. Awareness activities covered all regions in Libya with focus on Tripoli, Benghazi and Sebha, and ranged from virtual dialogues to in-person training and awareness sessions – including in community centres, migrant detention centres and universities – as well as TV and radio shows to mobilize collective and individual response to eliminate GBV in Libya.

The Ministry of Social Affairs was engaged in a virtual dialogue with 26 civil society activists to mark the campaign’s objectives and call for action to ensure availability of multi-sectoral services for GBV survivors. Libyan female-led CSOs were given the lead in spreading awareness messages, at community level and through participation in several TV and radio programmes. The Y-PEER network of young peer educators was actively involved to target young and adolescent girls with awareness messages for the elimination of child marriage.

A massive social media campaign was also conducted in partnership with Huna Libya, a media platform that engages young Libyans to come together to engage, through multi-media content, in dialogue and discussion on the issues that matter to them. The campaign included the participation of multiple UN Agencies in a collective effort of the UN Communications Group for Libya. Awareness messages related to HIV/AIDS and the rights of people with disabilities were incorporated into the campaign to mark World Aids Day and the International Day of Persons with Disability.

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Libya

Situation Report
Visual

Awareness session on GBV and women’s empowerment at a women’s centre, Sebha (UNFPA)

Awareness session on GBV and women’s empowerment at a women’s centre, Sebha (UNFPA)

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Libya

Situation Report
Access

Humanitarian access in Libya

In 2020 Humanitarian organizations operating in Libya faced different layers of access challenges and constraints. The security context saw significant changes in 2020 that affected the operational environment and humanitarian organizations’ access to people in need of assistance. While the suspension of fighting in June that translated into a ceasefire in October, enabled greater access, continued insecurity in some places, explosive hazard contamination and the imposition of curfews, travel disruptions and movement restrictions due to COVID-19 restrictions hampered humanitarian operations.

In March, the Humanitarian Access Incidents Reporting Mechanism was established, enabling humanitarian partners to report access constraints/incidents as they occurred. The tool supports a more systematic approach to monitoring and analyzing access constraints across the country and provides an evidence base for advocacy and addressing constraints by engaging with the relevant stakeholders. Also, in an effort to reinforce a collective approach, the Humanitarian Country Team in Libya endorsed the Humanitarian Access Strategy in August. In line with the strategy, the Humanitarian Access Working Group was re-established to serve as an advisory body to the HCT, providing recommendations and informing decision-making.

Throughout the year, bureaucratic constraints made up the majority (83 per cent) of all access constraints reported by partners. Of these, most (58 per cent) related to restrictions in the movement of humanitarian personnel and supplies into Libya. The most commonly reported constraints included significant delays in the issuance of visas for INGO international staff, difficulties in importing relief items through seaports and airports, as well as a three-month-long suspension of UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights. Bureaucratic movement restrictions within Libya, made up 25 per cent of monthly reported constraints, mostly due to COVID-19 pandemic-related precautionary measures, as well as stringent security measures imposed by the authorities in some parts of the country. The western region reported the highest number of constraints (43 per cent), on average, compared to the eastern and southern regions (37 per cent and 20 per cent respectively). This is in part a reflection of a higher operational presence of humanitarian partners and number of activities in the west, compared to the other two regions.

Access constraints recorded in December followed the declining trend in terms of the overall number reported. Humanitarian partners reported a total of 340 access constraints, with bureaucratic restrictions making up 53 per cent. Similar to previous months, constraints related to obtaining visas for INGO staff and challenges with the importation of supplies, particularly for the health sector, into Libya remained significant impediments for humanitarian operations. This highlights the need for long-term and sustainable solutions to address these persistent constraints. Similar to previous months, the second most reported type of constraint (25 per cent) related to bureaucratic restrictions on movements of humanitarian resources within the country. Other constraints related to interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities, attacks on civilian infrastructure (four reported attacks in health facilities), the presence of explosive hazards or armed groups and difficulties pertaining to the physical environment in remote areas were also reported in December.

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Libya

Situation Report
Visual

Access constraints per month in 2020 (OCHA)

Access constraints per month in 2020 (OCHA)

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