Durable Solutions Strategy for internally displaced people: a necessary step towards long-term recovery
In the aftermath of Libya’s decade-long armed conflict, hundreds of thousands of Libyans were displaced, with political instability and insecurity, as well as the lack of rule of law, preventing internally displaced people (IDPs) to return to their places and communities of origin. Although the security situation improved significantly since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in October 2020 and the subsequent formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in March 2021, creating favorable conditions for displaced populations to return, there remain an estimated 160,000 IDPs as identified by IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). Since DTM began recording population movements in 2016, a total of 673,554 individuals have returned to their areas of origin, with 98 per cent of the key informants reporting returning due to the improved security situation.
The pace of people returning is slowing, however, as those still displaced face more systemic impediments to return, such as houses damaged due to armed conflict and the lack of access to public services upon return, as well as personal security and social cohesion. Those displaced for a protracted period face uncertainty, with critical protection risks persisting, including an increase in the number of forced evictions.
On 2 May 2022, for instance, two IDP settlements in Tripoli, Fallah 1 and Fallah 2, comprising a total of 506 families, were given notice to leave the premises the following day. On 30 May, the Dawaa Eslameya IDP settlement in Tripoli, hosting 113 Tawerghan families, was ordered to vacate the premises, without the provision for an alternative solution addressing their decade-long protracted displacement status. These incidents highlighted once again the need to find a durable solution for IDPs.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC) Framework on durable solutions for internally displaced persons provides that "a durable solution is achieved when internally displaced persons no longer have any specific assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement and can enjoy their human rights without discrimination on account of their displacement.” Securing a truly durable solution is thus a long-term process of gradually diminishing these needs which requires interventions from across the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding spectrum.
Recognizing the need for a national framework to advance durable solutions for IDPs based on the international and protection standards, in late 2021 the Libyan authorities requested the support of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC) regarding the development of a national Durable Solutions Strategy. The SDC then seconded a Durable Solutions Advisor to the Office of the Resident Coordinator (RCO) to spearhead this initiative, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Displacement and Human Rights. The national Durable Solutions Strategy will encompass both IDPs and returnees who have not yet achieved a durable solution, while paying attention to the impacts of displacement on host communities and other crisis-affected communities. The Strategy looks not only at the safe and voluntary return of IDPs to their places of origin as a solution, but also considers integration in new communities through local integration or resettlement to other areas in the country. It is based on a number of key principles, including the participation of IDPs and other affected communities, a rights- and needs-based approach, the centrality of protection and a contextualized area-based approach taking into account the specificities of each IDP caseloads. Since the primary responsibility to establish conditions and provide the means that allow IDPs to achieve a durable solution lies with national authorities, the Libyan Government is expected to allocate the necessary resources.
The implementation of the national Durable Solutions Strategy will be supported by the international community in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for the period 2023-2025 recently agreed upon, between the UN and the Libyan government. The UNSDCF integrates a Collective Outcome on Durable Solutions for IDPs which will guide the work of the UN and its partners when it comes to supporting the implementation of the Durable Solutions Strategy. The overall objective, as stated in the UNSDCF Collective Outcome on durable solutions for IDPs, is to facilitate the attainment of durable solutions for 80 per cent of IDPs and returnees by 2025, taking fully into account the situation of communities hosting or receiving them. The national Durable Solutions Strategy has been finalized in July 2022, and its formal adoption by the Libyan government is expected to soon follow. Once adopted, the Strategy's implementation will extend until 2025, in line with the timeframe of the UNSDCF.