Situation update (until 30 June)
Following an intensification of conflict in southern Tripoli, Tarhuna and Sirt in June 2020, nearly 28,000 people were forced to flee their homes. The majority of those displaced moved to the east of the country, particularly to Benghazi (6,550 people) and Ejdabia (6,050 people), while others moved to the West, notably to Bani Waleed (4,750 people). Most internally displaced people (IDPs) are staying with relatives, friends, host families or in privately rented accommodation, while a smaller percentage (around 13 per cent) are staying in collective shelters that have been established by the local authorities.
In Tarhuna and in Sirt, there have been reports of acts of retribution, looting and other serious violations. This included reports of looting of the Tarhuna General Hospital. The recapture of Tarhuna by the Government of National Accord (GNA) brought the discovery of multiple mass graves. The United National Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) received an official request from the GNA to provide technical assistance to support investigations and collection of evidence in conformity with international standards.
On 22 June, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by all parties to the Libya conflict since the beginning of 2016. The resolution also included preserving evidence with a view to ensuring that those responsible for abuses are held accountable.
In response to newly identified humanitarian needs, UN agencies and partners responded to those affected in Tarhuna and Sirt, and to those in areas of displacement, reaching 34,000 people. This includes 17,500 affected or displaced people who have been provided with either food, hygiene kits and/or non-food items in Bani Waleed, Sirt, Tarhuna and Zawia in the West, and 16,300 people across the various locations of displacement in the East. Additionally, health supplies and equipment, as well as the provision of health services, have been provided in Bani Waleed, Sirt and Tarhuna and in the East.
There are around 430,000 people that remain displaced in Libya, compared to 269,000 people at the same time last year. Those municipalities hosting the highest number of IDPs are Tajoura and Suq Aljumaa in Tripoli, Bengahzi and Sebha. The number of people that have returned to their places of origin have remained limited (8,750 people since last reported). Insecurity remained the more significant factor that drove people’s displacement, with worsening economic conditions and availability of basic services being contributing factors.
With the recent shift in conflict dynamics, many people who were displaced since the beginning of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Tripoli offensive in April 2019, have started to return to many areas of southern Tripoli. However, there is a significant risk to returning residents and responders from explosive hazards that have been left behind by forces as they withdrew from Tripoli’s southern suburbs. According to the Libyan Mine Action Centre, there has been 138 casualties to date, with 81 civilians, including children, and 57 non-civilians, including clearance operators, are among the casualties in areas of southern Tripoli.
The Ministry of Defense has convened a joint committee to coordinate the mine action response and relevant humanitarian partners are supporting with mapping of explosive hazard contamination, explosive ordnance risk education and providing guidance to ensure that any returns are safe, dignified and voluntary. Urgent surveys of contaminated areas in Tripoli are critical for effectively planning safe returns. Recent incidents around Sirt, especially in the western part of the city, have also reportedly resulted in the deaths and injuries of seven civilians, including children, from new or legacy contamination. However, the scale of contamination in these areas cannot be quantified and mapped until surveys can be safely conducted after cessation of hostilities.
There are nearly 626,000 migrants and refugees in Libya; many who face arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, forced labour, extortion and exploitation. The number of people being held in state-run detention centers has nearly doubled in the last two months, with more than 2,300 migrants and refugees in detention. Migrants and refugees also continue to take risks to attempt to cross into Europe. Between 29 May and 29 June, more than 1,500 people were intercepted/rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned to Libya. As of 26 June, more than 5,000 refugees and migrants have been intercepted/rescued at sea in 2020 and returned to Libya, this is compared with 3,450 over the same period in 2019.
Across Libya, the protracted crisis, along with the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, are stretching the coping capacities and resilience of many people, including the more than 1 million people estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Between January and May 2020, humanitarian organizations have reached more than 198,000 people with assistance, including 60,000 IDPs, 87,000 vulnerable conflict-affected Libyans and recently returned, and 49,000 migrants and refugees.
This includes 91,000 people who received unconditional food assistance through either in-kind or cash-based transfers, and 6,700 people who received emergency agricultural inputs. Approximately 56,000 people received non-food items (NFIs) such as hygiene kits, mattresses, jerry cans and a further 2,200 people benefited from rehabilitation to collective shelters or damaged dwellings. More than 38,000 people received specialized protection services, such as general protection, gender-based violence and child protection services, including psychosocial support. Health sector partners enabled access to health services through more than 59,000 medical procedures.