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COVID-19 and vaccination in Libya: An assessment of migrants’ knowledge, attitudes and practices

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Context

Libya entered1 a third COVID-19 wave following a surge in cases in June 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation of those in situations of vulnerability and marginalization by further affecting the delivery of public services, already constrained by the effects of the armed conflict, political crisis and resulting economic challenges faced across the country.

As a result of the economic downturn and shrinking labour opportunities, the unemployment rate of migrants has increased2 since the beginning of the pandemic. A greater proportion of unemployed migrants continue to report being unable to meet their needs than those who are employed. For instance, data collected by the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) shows3 that a larger proportion of unemployed migrants continuously report facing food insecurity, financial issues and a lack of access to safe drinking water than those who are employed.

The need to understand migrants’ knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to COVID-19 as well as the COVID-19 vaccines became essential with the start of the vaccination campaign for the non-Libyan population in Autumn 2021. 1 OCHA (2021). Libya Enters Third COVID-19 Wave as Vaccination Strategy Shifts. Available at https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/libya/card/6xpEY7CH2G/ (accessed October 2021). 2 IOM Libya (2021). IOM Libya Migrant Report, Round 37 (May-June 2021). Available at https:// migration.iom.int/reports/libya-—-migrant-report-37-may-june-2021 (accessed October 2021). 3 Ibid.

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived4 in April 2021. By the end of June 2021, 5,120 non-Libyans had been registered5 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine out of a total of 62,000 migrants and refugees identified6 as priority based on vulnerability and risk profiles (examples: sociodemographic groups at elevated risk of either severe disease and/or death and/or becoming infected and transmitting the virus, such as frontline workers, or groups unable to physically distance (e.g. in detention facilities or dormitories)).

About this assessment

This assessment aims to shed light on what migrants know, their beliefs and their practices in relation to COVID-19 to inform risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities. This report also provides an overview of migrants’ perception and attitude towards COVID-19 vaccines, their willingness to get vaccinated and barriers to accessing the vaccine.

This exercise will help highlight information gaps, misperceptions and concerns among migrant populations, with a view to addressing them through awareness raising and information campaigns and the ultimate aim to contribute positively to the government’s vaccination plan and strategy.

This assessment is a follow-up on a previous assessment7 conducted in September 2020 that covered both the Libyan and non-Libyan populations and focused on COVID-19 knowledge, attitude and practices before the availability of vaccines was confirmed.