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Libya: “The resilience of people is astonishing despite 7 years of conflict, international community must increase support” – Deputy Humanitarian Chief

19 Dec 2018


Ms Mueller at Jalaa Women's Hospital. Since 2011, conditions have deteriorated drastically. The influx of refugees and migrants has put facilities under more pressure. Lack of equipment, medicine, and basic supplies are the norm. Babies have to take turns in incubators.

Humanitarian and development partners are linking up efforts in Libya to provide immediate support to communities affected by seven years of brutal conflict, to help prevent new humanitarian needs, and to address structural and economic impacts across the country.

Returning from a four-day mission to Libya and Tunisia, Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller, UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, Mr. Mourad Wahba, and the Director of the UNDP Crisis Bureau, Ms. Asako Okai, in a press briefing today reiterated their call on Government and national and international stakeholders to address people’s urgent need for life-saving assistance and support recovery and stabilization in Libya linking humanitarian and development actions.

“We cannot overstate that the efforts required are joined efforts, to which we are committed”, Ms Mueller said today. “People who had to flee violence live in overcrowded containers, in deplorable conditions, with no privacy or dignity. Women and girls at detention centers have lived through atrocities. We must help them now”.

“People are losing hope”

Tarig Al Seka detention center in Tripoli

“We spoke to women and men at the Tarig Al Seka detention center in Tripoli”, DERC Mueller said. “People are detained, losing hope. Their faces, their voices and stories will stay with me. Surely, we as humanity can do better”.

Libya faces a complex and protracted humanitarian and protection crisis, as a result of armed conflict, the breakdown of public service provision and governance and economic challenges. Many health care facilities are no longer operational, and the UN is concerned that, in some areas, Libya’s water and sanitation system is on the verge of collapse. The country also faces severe development challenges and requires multi-faceted, sustained development support.

December 2018, Al Fallah IDP camp, Tripoli - Since 2011, about 200 families have been living in this makeshift camp for internally displaced persons in Tripoli. The camp used to be a temporary accommodation for workers of a foreign company. During the 2011 uprising and subsequent conflict, the entire population of the city of Tawargha - approximately 43,000 people - was forced to flee their homes. The majority ended up in camps around Tripoli and Benghazi. After living in displacement and difficult conditions for seven years, they are eager to return home and UN partners are discussing with the Government how to ensure conditions conducive to a safe and voluntary return in dignity.

“What we witnessed in Tripoli is disheartening,” said Ms Mueller. “Doctors in public hospitals lack the medical supplies they need to treat patients. Tens of thousands of displaced people have been living in overcrowded shelters, sharing public bathrooms and kitchens. Thousands of migrants of various nationalities are kept in unspeakable conditions in congested detention centers. We saw the damage the conflict has caused to the lives of people, but also the resilience they have demonstrated. The United Nations and partners are committed to support the people of Libya wherever they are, despite the insecurity and access constrains that hamper their work.”

DERC Mueller was impressed by work of UNHCR in Libya. “We visited the new Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli. The Centre offers refugees immediate protection and safety. It is a critical alternative to detention of those most vulnerable”.

Severe underfunding despite the rising needs

Today, an estimated 823,000 people, including around 241,000 children, are in need of humanitarian assistance in Libya. Increased humanitarian and protection needs are a reflection of deepening vulnerabilities amongst Libyans, as half of the people in need are Libyans, and the other half are refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

The humanitarian response to the Libya crisis remains however severely underfunded, with only 25 per cent of the $313 million required for the Humanitarian Response Plan received so far.

“Since February, we have been able to scale up the humanitarian response in Libya” Ms. Mueller said today, “but we need more access in the south, and we need more donor funding. The Libya appeal is one of the least funded in the world, but the people of Libya need our support, and they need it now”.