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MMC North Africa 4Mi Snapshot – May 2020: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Mobility of Refugees and Migrants in Libya

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Since mid-March, land borders between North African countries have been closed in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.1 On March 15th, in Libya, the Government of National Accord (GNA) closed the Wazin/Dehiba border and the Ras Ajdir with Tunisia, and on March 30th, the Libyan National Army (LNA) closed the border between Libya and Egypt at Tobruk. In the South, the closures of Libya’s southern border with Niger at Tuommo within the Algatroun region (reported March 29th) constrained the movements of seasonal workers from Niger to Libya. Within Libya, OCHA reports that strong infection control measures remain in place, including internal movement restrictions. This snapshot explores the impact of COVID-19 on the mobility of refugees and migrants in Libya. It aims to contribute towards building a solid evidence base to inform targeted responses on the ground, as well as advocacy efforts related to the situation of refugees and migrants during the coronavirus pandemic.


This snapshot is based on 442 refugee and migrant surveys in Libya conducted between April 6th and May 7th, 2020. The majority of the respondents were surveyed in Tripoli (38%), followed by Sabha (33%), Ajdabiya (9%), and Benghazi (7%), with additional surveys also taking place in Brak, Ghadames, Misrata, Marj, Algatroun, Ghat, Jalu, Khoms, Shahhat, and Traghan. The primary nationalities of those surveyed include Nigerian (n=115; 26%), Sudanese (n=71; 16%), and Nigerien (n=52; 12%). Other nationalities include, but are not limited to, Ghanaian, Malian, Cameroonian, Chadian, Burkinabe, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and South Sudanese. Of those surveyed, 71% are men, and 29% are women, ranging from 18 to 65 years of age. The survey data were triangulated with qualitative data from 6 key informant interviews carried out with 3 Nigerians, 1 Burkinabe, 1 Cameroonian and 1 Chadian in Tripoli, Sabha and Ajdabiya.