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Libya: What US$202M can do for people grappling with conflict and instability

05 Feb 2019


Benghazi, Libya, 31 Jan 2019. Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

Since 2011, Libya has experienced several waves of brutal conflict, which have led to massive displacement. At least 823,000 people, including 248,000 children, need humanitarian assistance as a result of persisting political instability, ongoing violence and insecurity, breakdown of the rule of law, a deteriorating public sector and a dysfunctional economy.

What is different about the crisis in Libya is that Libyans make up half of the population in need, while asylum seekers, migrants and refugees make up the other half.

Libya’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan is asking for US$202 million to meet the most basic needs of 552,000 of the most vulnerable people, both Libyans and migrants.

A young Sudanese IDP boy with a doll outside the shack where he lives with his mother and two siblings. The settlement hosts around 70 women and children. Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

“It is absolutely critical that the international community work together with national partners to make sure vulnerable people are supported and protected,” said Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya Maria do Valle Ribeiro. “Seven years of instability and insecurity have taken their toll on the wellbeing of many children, women and men in Libya. Each passing year people struggle to withstand the impacts of the crisis that has destabilized the country, put them in harm’s way, driven up food prices, and ravaged the economy.”

Despite the increasing needs, funding is at an all-time low. The 2018 appeal remained almost 74 per cent underfunded. Without the necessary funds, humanitarian partners simply won’t be able to sustain their activities, which are meant to save lives and restore people’s dignity.

For 2019, here is an overview of what the $202 million requested by humanitarian partners are needed for.


Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

Seven years of conflict and widespread violations of International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law have resulted in severe protection needs for internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, affected host communities, refugees and migrants. Widespread human rights violations and abuses, violence against women and children, and arbitrary and unlawful detention of refugees and migrants, who are subjected to live in inhumane conditions, and suffer torture and the denial of basic services such as medical care, have become the norm.

The response planned this year targets 234,000 persons in need of protection and assistance - of which 104,000 are Libyans and 130,000 non-Libyans - with quality services for the most vulnerable people, especially children, reintegration programmes, mine risk education for communities and specialized assistance to survivors of explosive hazards, among others.


A Sudanese refugee, who recently contracted tuberculosis, lies awaiting treatment at a UNHCR-supported health facility in the outskirts of Tripoli. Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

Years of conflict have had a crippling effect on public services in Libya. The Al Jalaa public hospital in Tripoli now serves a third of the country, as many health facilities have been damaged or destroyed. The response will address three critical areas:

  1. Provide people with adequate access to basic health services.
  2. Strengthen the capacity of the health workforce through Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) and mobile teams in areas where medical staff is limited, or specialized services are inadequate.
  3. Reinforce disease surveillance to enable partners to detect, manage and contain cases at the earliest stages.

Food insecurity

46 year old Badria prepares food for her family in her shack in an IDP camp that houses 370 other families displaced by the conflict. Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

As conflict continues to cause displacement, and the economic crisis contributes to increasing food prices, people are forced to increasingly rely on negative coping strategies. In Alkufra, Zwara and Murzuq in southern Libya, more than 30 per cent of households have a poor or borderline food consumption. On average, Libyan households spend 53 per cent out of their total expenditure on food items.

The response will aim to provide the most vulnerable populations with sufficient and nutritious food while ensuring long-term support through agricultural, livestock and fishery systems.

Water and sanitation

The shacks migrants live in been severely affected by the recent heavy rainfall in Benghazi. People lack access to clean drinking water and the level of sanitation and hygiene in the settlement is alarming, mostly because of the poor condition that the sewage systems are in.Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

Tens of thousands of displaced people have been living in overcrowded shelters, sharing public bathrooms and kitchens.

Access to water and sanitation services will be prioritized in three critical areas:

  1. In detention centres, where thousands of migrants of various nationalities are kept in unsanitary conditions in congested detention centers.
  2. In schools, particularly in the most marginalized areas in southern and western cities, conflict-affected areas of the country as well as areas located on the migration routes is one of the key activities planned for the year.
  3. In collective centres and IDP camps, both for host communities and for refugees and migrants.


Children leaving in the Qaryounis settlement in Benghazi, home to 204 families (677 people) almost all of whom were displaced from Tawergha in 2011.Credit: OCHA/G.Clarke

Waves of conflict have caused population displacement and severely damaged housing and infrastructures across Libya, mostly in the coastal areas. This, combined with lack of adequate shelter options, has led to a drastic increase in rental prices, affecting the most vulnerable population.

This year, humanitarian partners will prioritize emergency shelter assistance for the most vulnerable populations, for IDPs, returnees, migrants and refugees. Combining mechanisms such as in-kind assistance (e.g. shelter materials), with cash-based assistance at household level (emergency grant, rental subsidies, cash for construction materials), humanitarian partners aim to provide people with more livelihood opportunities, which will strengthen their resilience and self-sufficiency.


The Cordoba public school has been heavily damaged by the conflict, but tThe Libyan Red Crescent Society worked hard to repair the damages. The school has only three toilets with no running water, despite being attended by 1,500 children (from grades 1 to grade 9). In the schoolyard is a large swamp of sewage overflow coming from the adjacent houses.  CreditL OCHA/G.Clarke

There are approximately 343,300 Libyans, migrants and refugee school-aged children (6-17 years) whose access to education has been affected due to the conflict, displacement or legal status in the country. Out of them, 93,000 school-aged IDPs, returnees, refugees and migrant children are most vulnerable and in need of education in emergency support. Children don’t need just schools. They need help to cope with psychosocial distress or trauma, affecting their ability to learn and develop to their fullest potential.

Humanitarian partners will aim to support both national systems and community-based structures to facilitate access to quality education for all vulnerable girls and boys, irrespective of their legal status in the country. The response prioritizes vulnerable children including children living with disabilities, especially in hard-to-reach and conflict-affected areas.