Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
Libya is struggling to cope with the effects of ongoing armed conflict, economic and governance crises, and the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19, all of which have resulted in the deterioration of public services and people’s livelihoods. The crisis in Libya has a strong protection dimension, with violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including conflict-related sexual violence and grave violations against children.
Due to the armed conflict that extended into 2020, 417 civilian casualties were reported as of June. Indiscriminate shelling has also damaged and destroyed health facilities, schools, water infrastructure, and people’s homes. Between January and September, Libya recorded 28 attacks on medical facilities, ambulances, and medical personnel, resulting in the deaths of eight people and injury of 23 others. Armed conflict and insecurity continued to drive displacement during the first part of the year. A rapid shift of the frontlines in June and July allowed a few thousand people to return home although the destruction of basic services and the presence of explosive hazards remain major constraints that are hindering safe and dignified returns. As of September, 392,000 people remained internally displaced throughout the country.
Libya continues to be at high risk of the spread of COVID-19. A serious obstacle to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the fragmented governance in Libya. By September, a national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 was still to be endorsed. The true scale of the pandemic is likely still not known due to shortages in COVID-19 testing supplies, adequate health care facilities and contact tracing.
The ability of many people to cover basic needs, including housing, has been eroded by the current economic crisis and the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19. During 2020, the country regularly experienced prolonged power and water cuts, as well as fuel shortages, further affecting people’s livelihoods and disrupting critical services. Movement restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of the virus have driven up the price of essential food and goods by 20 per cent above pre-COVID levels as of September 2020, and negatively affected people’s livelihood opportunities. Unemployment in vulnerable groups have increased with about 27 per cent of surveyed migrant workers unemployed in August, compared to 10 per cent in February. Many women who rely on the informal economy for their livelihoods have been similarly affected. Many migrants and refugees, including children, continued to face arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, forced labour, extortion, and exploitation.
Projected situation in 2021 and beyond
About 1.3 million people are estimated to need some form of humanitarian assistance next year, a 40 per cent increase compared to 2020. The highest needs are found in Alkufra, Benghazi, Ejdabia, and Tripoli due to the impact of armed conflict. These locations also host the highest number of displaced, migrant, and refugee populations. The formal ceasefire agreement signed on 23 October, while still to be implemented, holds promise. Should the ceasefire be accompanied by associated, positive political and economic developments, internal displacement would reduce as households may feel secure enough to return home. Access to services would likely improve as increased revenue, specifically from the oil sector, would allow for more investment in public service delivery. However, these possible improvements could still be hampered in the foreseeable future by the continued impact of COVID-19 cases and imposed prevention measures to curb the spread of the disease.
Even with an optimistic upturn in Libya’s fortunes, humanitarian needs will remain high in the near term as agreements materialize on the ground and the economy rebounds. In the long term, it is anticipated that some vulnerable groups would still require some form of humanitarian assistance until sustainable solutions are achieved. Advocacy would also remain necessary in order to overcome the cultural barriers and discrimination.
Response priorities in 2021
IDPs, returnees, migrants, refugees and non-displaced people who are affected by Libya’s overall context will remain as priority vulnerable groups for the 2021 HRP. A total of 1.3 million people need humanitarian assistance and/or critical protection services. Of those, 451,000 of the most vulnerable people will be targeted by the 2021 HRP. The international humanitarian community will continue to work with Libyan stakeholders to cultivate the capacity of Libyan authorities to lead and implement protection and assistance for those most in need.
Centrality of protection, age, gender and diversity, as well as capacity strengthening, will remain at the core of the humanitarian response. Safeguarding measures to prevent and provide protection from sexual exploitation and abuse will be strengthened. Data management will also be a key component of the response to ensure needs analysis and response planning are people-centered.
The financial requirement for the HRP 2021 is $189 million. The plan will complement Libyan efforts, with an emphasis on increasing coordination and collaboration in a principled manner.