More displaced families return home while migrant/refugee sea crossings increase
Between October and December 2020, over 37,000 people returned to their homes (an increase from almost 567,800 returnees to almost 605,000 returnees). Correspondingly, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) identified in Libya decreased from over 316,400 individuals to almost 278,200 IDPs by the end of December 2020.
The number of returns remains low due to lack of basic services and the presence of explosive hazards especially in southern parts of Tripoli. Data from the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC) indicates that during 2021, 15 people were killed and 5 injured by explosive hazards in Tripoli and Sirte. Explosive hazards continue to be discovered and removed for disposal. Overall, since May 2020, explosive remnants have resulted in at least 88 deaths and 136 injuries; of these, more than 67 percent were civilians and the others were clearance operators from the Interior and Defense ministries.
Accident numbers have dropped significantly in 2021. More likely this is due to heightened awareness among at-risk populations thanks to explosive ordnance risk education, in tandem with the marking of hazardous areas and some 'hot spot' area clearance. It is of utmost importance not to associate the temporary reduction of accidents with a long-term removal of the threat, or for that matter, to inadvertently give that impression.
The number of IDPs in Tripoli region continued to decrease and more than 18,000 individuals (3,600 families) previously displaced in urban locations in Tripoli returned to their places of origin and habitual residence. The same trend was observed in other locations in Libya hosting IDPs as the return of previously displaced populations to Tripoli and other areas in Western Libya continued. Since July 2020, more than 148,000 individuals returned to their communities of origin. However, despite these returns, the Tripoli region still hosts the largest displaced population in Libya with over 53,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) present in its various municipalities. The municipalities of Tajoura, Suq Aljuma, and Hai Alandalus together host 83 percent of the IDPs in the Tripoli region.
Overall, displacement in Libya has been primarily linked to security related issues, such as the hostilities in Western Libya in 2019-2020. Insecurity and its associated factors is identified as the primary driver that led IDPs to leave their community of origin at the time of displacement. Additionally, the deterioration of the local economic situation and lack of access to basic services are also identified as main drivers of displacement. February has seen a significant increase year-on-year of the number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe with almost 3,500 migrants and refugees rescued/intercepted at sea. In only two months, about 4,000 migrants and refugees were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya compared to close to 2,200 in 2020 for the same reporting period; a 85 per cent increase. While the weather conditions have been particularly favorable for this time of year, which may partly explain such an increase, other factors are also at play, including changes in territorial control allowing traffickers and smugglers to operate and organize departures. Food insecurity also remains a concern for migrants. As a result of increased prices, restricted freedom of movement and limited income-generating opportunities, the DTM Migrant Report (Round 34) reports that the number of people facing food insecurity in Libya in 2020 is estimated to have more than doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels.