Tripoli: One year on
The fourth of April 2020 marked one year since forces of Libyan National Army (LNA) launched their offensive to seize Tripoli, Libya’s capital. The one-year long war has taken a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands of people who have either been displaced or continue to live on the front lines of an ongoing war. The conﬂict has also had a signiﬁcant impact on people’s livelihoods and their access to essential goods and services, as well as damaging or destroying homes, hospitals and schools.
While the conﬂict quickly became protracted and focused mostly in southern parts of Tripoli, from the end of 2019, ﬁghting has increasingly moved into more populated areas, causing further civilian casualties and displacement. Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, UNSMIL documented at least 685 civilian casualties (356 deaths and 329 injured). Nearly 345,000 civilians remain in front line areas with an additional 749,000 people estimated to live in areas affected by the clashes.
Much of the conﬂict is characterized by its indiscriminate nature, with regular violations of international humanitarian and international human rights laws, including attacks on critical public infrastructure and services. There have been 64 conﬂict- related incidents recorded on ﬁeld hospitals, health care workers, ambulances and medical supplies, since April 2019, killing 80 people, injuring 66 others and affecting 24 health facilities.
Additionally, 16 schools have been attacked that affected more than 15,000 students. Prior to the total closure of schools (impacting 1.3 million students) due to COVID-19, many schools had been closed for months due to proximity to ﬁghting. There have also been seven attacks on water infrastructure (all part of the Man-Made River infrastructure). These attacks, together with electricity cuts, regularly affected water supply to 3 to 4 million people.
More than 200,000 people have been displaced since conﬂict reignited in Libya in April 2019, with Tripoli accounting for around 150,000 of recorded displacement. In late March and early April 2020, around 3,700 people have been forced to ﬂee their homes in Abusliem Municipality, and the neighbourhoods of Salah Al Din and Al Hadba, as well as another 3,100 people near Tarhuna who ﬂed their homes in mid-April within 48 hours due to escalated ﬁghting.
For many people, the conﬂict has destroyed or damaged their homes and many have ﬂed due to the proximity of ﬁghting, impacting living conditions. Coupled with increased demand due to IDP arrivals this has led to shortages in adequate shelter options and associated increases in rental costs. Vulnerable families face diﬃculties in securing affordable housing, along with those who have lost important legal documents, being at risk of eviction.
Migrants and refugees continue to attempt crossing to Europe, many of whom are returned to the country, mainly to detention centres in and around Tripoli. In 2020, there are more than 654,000 migrants and refugees in Libya. They continue to be at risk of unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention and unlawful deprivation of liberty, rape and other forms of gender-based violence, slavery and forced labour, extortion and exploitation. On 2 July 2019, an airstrike hit the Tajoura Detention Center outside Tripoli, killing at least 53 people and injuring another 130 people.
UN agencies, along with international and national NGOs have continued to provide humanitarian assistance to those displaced and affected by the conﬂict. From April 2019 until the end of March 2020, the humanitarian community has reached more than 220,000 people with assistance. This includes more than 50,000 people through the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) in 32 municipalities across 14 mantikas. The mechanism was activated in response to rapidly emerging needs of people displaced following the Tripoli offensive. On 11 April 2019, four UN agencies (IOM, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP) launched the RRM, jointly delivering a minimum integrated package of assistance to persons displaced due to the armed conﬂict, in hard-to-reach areas, caught at checkpoints or stranded between front lines.