Libya: Annual report 2019



In 2019, Libya remained locked in conLfict, violence and political instability. The situation was compounded by the existence of two competing governments. A Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli was established in December 2015 with the support of the UN. A rival government in the east (Benghazi) is backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. The UN-backed government in Tripoli has struggled to exert control over territory held by rival factions and intensifying geographical and political divisions between the east, west and south. Terrorist groups and armed militias have exploited the turmoil and used the country as a base for radicalization and organized crime. Libya is awash with weapons: arms from the Gaddaf era are plentiful, and materials of war continue to be shipped to the country in breach of the UN-imposed arms embargo.

In April 2019, the LNA launched an offensive to capture Tripoli from the GNA. After initial advances, it has been locked in stalemate with government-backed forces for several months. The continuing fIghting in Tripoli has cut off access to hospitals and left thousands of people without health care. At least 3000 people have been killed and injured and another 149 000 have been displaced. At the beginning of July, Tajoura detention centre in Tripoli holding more than 600 migrants and refugees suffered a direct airstrike that killed 50 people and injured 130 others. This prompted the international community to renew its calls for the closure of detention centres across the country. As of 31 December 2019, around 250 000 civilians in Tripoli were living in areas directly affected by the confLict, and almost half of them were living very close to battle frontlines.

While the battle for Tripoli has dominated international attention, the situation in the south has been all too often overlooked. The region is critical to the stability of Libya, but it has been historically marginalized in the country's politics despite its ample natural resources. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UN6MIL) has expressed its deep concern about reports coming from the south on the mobilization of armed forces and the escalating cycle of statements and counter-statements by warring factions, signaling the growing risks of imminent confLict.

In August 2019, the dangers of working in Libya were illustrated when a bomb exploded under a UN vehicle in Benghazi, instantly killing three UN staff and severely injuring several other staff and bystanders. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident investigations are under way by the United Nations. The same month, approximately 100 people were killed, more than 200 were injured and over 30 000 were displaced when violence fared between rival tribes in Murzuq, south Libya. By the end of the year, the number of internally displaced people (ID3s) in Libya had almost doubled to 343 000.

The number of attacks on health care rose sharply. In the summer of 2019, airstrikes on two fIeld hospitals and two ambulances in Tripoli killed at least four doctors and one paramedic and injured several others. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Ghassan Salame condemned this clear pattern of ruthless attacks against health workers and facilities in the strongest terms.

Outbreaks of measles and rubella and increasing rates of cutaneous leishmaniasis, tuberculosis, pertussis and acute jaundice syndrome highlighted Libya’s vulnerability to large-scale disease outbreaks. Between 1000 and 1500 cases of acute diarrhea have been reported each week. The clear threat of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable and other diseases is compounded by poor surveillance. Only 84% of the country’s 125 sentinel sites are sending regular surveillance data to the disease early warning and response system, which has very limited capacity to detect and respond to disease alerts.