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Expanded Response in Libya 2017 Supplementary Appeal: January - December 2017 (May 2017)

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This Supplementary Appeal outlines UNHCR’s expansion plans for the operation in Libya and presents funding requirements to meet the increased humanitarian and protection needs of conflict affected populations, both Libyan and non-Libyan.

In line with its Protection Strategy for Libya, UNHCR’s objective is to enhance and expand the protection response to refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees, through facilitating solutions to displacement and increasing the level and quality of assistance provided to civilians affected by the conflict. Key protection activities will include protection monitoring and interventions as well as advocacy on issues related to respect for human rights, access to basic services and asylum procedures, and freedom of movement. UNHCR will also work towards building the capacities of Libyan actors in these areas.

Civilians in Libya continue to suffer as a result of conflict, insecurity, political instability and a collapsing economy. The direct humanitarian impact has been that hundreds of thousands of people across the country are now suffering, living in unsafe conditions, with little or no access to life-saving health care, essential medicines, food, safe drinking water, shelter and education. A total of 1.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The absence of functioning government institutions and a breakdown in law and order have provided fertile ground for the proliferation of criminal networks in Libya, including international smuggling and trafficking operations. Migrants and refugees have become another commodity to be exploited for profit. Of the three main routes bringing refugees and migrants to Europe, the Central Mediterranean route currently represents the largest migration channel. Libya is by far the most important transit point for refugees and migrants aiming to reach Europe, with over 90 per cent of sea arrivals to Italy having departed from Libya. More than 180,000 people reached Italy by sea in 2016 - this is an increase of 18 per cent compared to same period in 2015 (153,842). As of mid-May 2017, 45,750 people reached Italy by sea, which also represents a 30 per cent increase from the same period last year. Furthermore, 2016 recorded an unprecedented increase of 109 per cent of sea arrivals of unaccompanied and separated children (25,846) compared to 2015 (12,360) and this trend is expected to continue in 2017.

The number of people reaching or attempting to reach Italy is only indicative of the total number of refugees and migrants in Libya, whether in transit or settled in the country. Despite high security risks in the country, Libya continues to host a large number of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. Currently, there are 40,259 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya, out of an estimated 100,000. Syrians represent half of the population registered with UNHCR in Libya (20,228 people). Palestinians and Iraqis are also amongst the top nationalities, followed by East African countries, in particular Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan.

According to IOM, there are also an estimated 381,463 migrants in Libya from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Estimates of migrants differ, with figures as high as 1 to 2.5 million having been reported. Not all of them intend to travel onwards; about half of respondents interviewed by UNHCR and its partners for the 2017 Mixed Migration Trends in Libya survey indicated their wish to remain in Libya, either permanently or until return to their country of origin becomes an option. The lack of stability, widespread human rights abuses and the current economic crisis push some of those initially intending to stay to attempt the crossing towards Europe.

Libyan civilians are also bearing the brunt of the ongoing conflict and instability. Since 2014, military operations, insecurity, and pervasive rights violations have forced entire communities to flee. Over half a million people have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict and the presence of armed groups. As open conflict subsides, many Libyans have recently returned to their area of origin in conditions of insecurity, facing challenges with social acceptance, reintegration and access to public services.

While taking note of the challenging political and security situation on the ground, it is clear humanitarian needs in Libya currently far outpace operational capacities. This Supplementary Appeal presents the blueprint for a substantial scale-up by UNHCR to comprehensively address the situation.