Since 2011, Libya’s complex socio-political context has been marked by an increasingly protracted conflict. The political and military division of the country between West and East in 2014 marked the beginning of a renewed state of instability, characterised by more localised forms of violence around key strategic and economic resources.
In 2019, conflict reignited in the Western region and tensions continued into 2020, with hostilities impacting some of the region’s most populated areas.1 The protracted conflict, together with the closure of the main oil terminals in the Eastern region from January to September 2020, has taken a severe toll on Libya’s economy, primarily dependent on oil and gas exports and already affected by a severe liquidity crisis.2 In this context, the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 and the consequent public health measures adopted have had the effect of further eroding livelihoods, resulting in a generalised deterioration of living standards and threatening the ability of Libyan and nonLibyan populations to meet their basic needs.3 Despite ongoing conflict and economic crisis, Libya remains a destination and transit country for migrants, primarily from neighbourhing countries such as Niger (20% of the total estimated migrant population in Libya), Egypt (17%), Chad (15%) and Sudan (14%).4 While some departures have been noted since the outbreak of COVID-19 of foreign nationals in Libya, Libya remains a viable destination and transit hub for migration, due to its job opportunities and position;5 as of October 2020, 574,146 migrants were estimated residing in the country, while approximately 44,000 individuals were registered as refugees or asylum seekers with the United Nations High Commisioner of Refugees (UNHCR). However, reduced livelihoods opportunities, lack of documentation, and discrimination prevent many refugees and migrants from accessing basic services and assistance and cover their essential needs. Against the backdrop of endemic insecurity and weakness of the rule of law, refugees and migrants are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, harassment and abuse, while the criminalisation of irregular entry, stay or departure since 2010 exposes them to the risk of arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention.
In this context, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with support from REACH and extensive input from all active sectors and working groups in Libya, conducted a multi-sectoral needs assessment (MSNA) in 9 mantikas (admin level 2) in Libya.6 The primary purpose of the assessment was to inform the 2021 humanitarian response planning and support a targeted and evidence-based humanitarian response. Data from the 2020 Refugee and Migrant MSNA has been used to feed into the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).
The assessment consisted of a quantitative and a qualitative component. Quantitative data collection took place between 24 June and 6 August 2020 and consisted of 1,551 individual surveys. Minimum quotas for sub-groups were established in order to ensure that an accurate cross-section of the migrant and refugee population was assessed to be indicative of the region of origin (quota 1), with proportional distribution across location (quota layer 2) and gender (quota layer 3).7 Due to the operating environment in light of COVID-19, all surveys were conducted over the phone. Contacts were sourced through a mixture of referrals from respondents and phone numbers provided by local civil society organisations’ (CSO) and international non-governmental organisations’ (INGOs) partner networks.8 The sampling was purposive and the findings cannot be taken as statistically representative; as far as possible, biases in the data were identified and mitigated through triangulation with local actors and qualitative data collection, while any outlying data was removed. Qualitative data collection consisted of 131 key informant interviews (KIIs), targeting locations and population groups identified as having outstanding needs by the qualitative findings. In addition, 14 KIs were carried out in Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sebha by the International Medical Corps (IMC) covering topics related to gender-based violence (GBV), while 11 focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted in Tripoli and Misrata by Cesvi focusing on GBV and child protection. All findings were contextualized and triangulated with secondary sources.