• As of 7 June 2020, there are 270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Libya, including five deaths.
• One in three migrants in Libya is estimated to be food insecure and in urgent need of assistance
• As of 31 May 2020, a total of 21,000 people have been reached with COVID-related humanitarian assistance.
• Priority health response activities include support for health rapid response teams, personal protective equipment, lab diagnostic kits and supplies, establishment and support to isolation sites, as well as capacity building and education/awareness raising.
As of 7 June 2020, the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 270 confirmed cases, including five COVID-related deaths, in Libya. A total of 53 people have recovered. More than 12,240 tests have been performed. In the last week there has been a significant increase in the number of people confirmed with COVID-19, particularly in the South.
As of 6 June, the majority of confirmed cases are from Sebha (114), Tripoli (81), Misrata (14), Wadi Ashshati (12), Gharyan (9) and Zliten (7).
In response to the surge of confirmed cases in the South authorities have announced full curfew and lockdown and additional measures for an initial period of two weeks. Additional supplies are being provided by authorities in the East and the West, as well as from health sector partners, to support the isolation centre in Sebha and other health facilities.
The continuing lack of supplies remains an overriding concern. Although some supplies have been received, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is still to share its distribution plan with WHO. Many health workers, especially in the south, are refusing to report for duty because they have no personal protective equipment. Around 75 per cent of the health facilities are not functioning to capacity due to shortage of staff, are in need of maintenance and repair, or are not accessible to due to security situation. Shortage of fuel and recurrent electricity outages are further affecting the provision of health services.
Remains concerned over the weak disease surveillance and lack of sentinel sites reporting to the disease early warning and response network (EWARN). There are concerns that weekly EWARN bulletins have stopped and the number of sentinel sites has decreased—from 70 per cent in March to 50 per cent in April. WHO is exploring ways of supporting EWARN’s rapid scale up, in collaboration with the NCDC. Little progress has been made facilitating approvals for the importation of health supplies, the release of salaries and the provision of PPE to health workers. Other critical issues to be addressed include vaccine shortages and improving coordination between the MoH and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 is still to be endorsed. In the absence of a coordinated national response, many municipalities have imposed their own regulations and taken their own measures such as establishing local COVID-19 crisis committees.
Senior health administrators in the east met with the “Interim Prime Minister” to discuss the dire situation, including the acute shortages of medicines, supplies and equipment. Health facilities in the east do not expect to receive funds to be released from the Central Bank. The national authorities have announced the release of LYD 1 billion, including LYD 180 million (approximately USD 127 million) for the MoH. However, specific funds for the COVID-19 response have yet to be released by the Central Bank of Libya. Municipalities’ reactions to the government’s allocation of funds for COVID-19 have varied. Some have categorically rejected these funds, while others have welcomed the money.
According to a recent IOM/DTM report on movement restrictions have reported that between 7 and 31 May 2020, close to 2,200 Libyans reportedly returned from Egypt by land and another 2,000 Libyans from Tunisia through Ras Ajdir land border.
Additionally, over 4,900 Libyans returned from abroad through Misrata Airport, Benina Airport in Benghazi and Al Abraq Airport in Al Bayda. Local authorities in border cities such as Al Kufra and Al Jaghbub have reportedly implemented stricter measures by implementing municipal entry restrictions into their cities.
COVID-19 and the related prevention measures impact many people’s lives and livelihoods, hitting migrants particularly hard. According to the recently released Migrant Emergency Food Security Report from IOM. Based on the analysis, one in three migrants in Libya is estimated to be food insecure and in urgent need of assistance. The high levels of inadequate food consumption across Libya appear to be closely related to the deteriorating security situation and the fact that daily casual labour opportunities are limited due to containment measures.
According to the assessment, the type and availability of employment were driving factors of food insecurity, with higher levels of low food consumption reported among those seeking daily labour (34 per cent) than for those with regular employment (11 per cent). But other vulnerable groups, such as people who are internally displaced (IDPs) are also impacted. According to WFP’s latest mVAM report conducted in April-May 2020, almost 55 per cent of IDP households were unable to reach their workplace since the beginning of the pandemic and restriction measures in Libya.
In order to support responding organizations in containing the spread of COVID-19, REACH has developed a geographic overview of at-risk populations in 17 mantikas in Libya. Each mantika's severity score is based on an inter-sectional analysis of two factors: populations at risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, and populations at risk of experiencing higher infection rates. The indicators used for the analysis captured issues like individuals' pre-existing vulnerabilities, population density, population movement, and access to WASH and health services. According to the analysis Murzuq is the mantika most likely to have populations susceptible to COVID-19 due to preexisting vulnerabilities, followed by Alkufra, Al Jabal Al Gharbi, Azzawya, Misrata, Sebha, Tripoli and Ubari. The map was developed to support organizations in prioritizing areas for assistance by identifying vulnerable populations, not to predict the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite continuing challenges with humanitarian access, due to COVID-related restriction measures, insecurity and bureaucratic impediments, the humanitarian community continues to work with national and local authorities to facilitate access for humanitarian personnel and supplies. Humanitarian organizations have been able to successfully gained agreement to move assistance between municipalities and between the West and the East and South, which had required specific authorisation due to COVID-19. These includes health items and WASH supplies, including hygiene kits, water tanks and trucks for waste management, as well as other non-food items.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.