Since early 2019, tensions between the Alahali and Tebu communities in the Libyan city of Murzuq have grown progressively more severe, leading to numerous outbreaks of violence. The conflict escalated to unprecedented levels starting on 4 August 2019, when a series of airstrikes sparked heavy urban fighting and mass displacement. As of 27 August, the conflict had eased slightly, but an estimated 17,320 individuals,1 or nearly 60% of Murzuq’s population,2 had fled to cities throughout Libya, leaving only small numbers of residents in some areas of the city.
To inform response plans, between 23 and 27 August, REACH assessed the humanitarian situation across seven cities and towns in south Libya that had received large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Murzuq, as well as conducting two supplementary interviews in Murzuq itself.
Data was collected through 25 multi-sector key informant (KI) interviews conducted with community leaders, tribal council members, medical professionals and others. The information in this document refers only to the situation during the data collection period and should be considered indicative only.
• Displacement from certain mainly Alahali areas of Murzuq has been widespread, with only small numbers of residents remaining in these areas. Tebu neighbourhoods also witnessed large-scale, though not complete, displacement, and KIs report that Tebu families are slowly beginning to return to their homes.
• Displacement flows were reportedly determined by a household’s community identity, with both Alahali and Tebu households fleeing to areas controlled by their own or allied communities.
• In several assessed cities, an estimated 15-30% of recent arrivals from Murzuq had reportedly moved on to other destinations, most often the city of Sebha. Many of these new arrivals had left due to difficulty finding affordable food, shelter, healthcare, and other services in the smaller towns and villages that were their first points of arrival.
• Movement between cities prompted particular protection concerns for Murzuq IDPs due to armed group activity and ad hoc checkpoints between cities. KIs reported that frequent security incidents had taken place at these checkpoints, including robbery, detention, kidnapping, sexual harassment, and theft of identity papers.
• Shelters and infrastructure in Murzuq sustained significant damage at the height of the conflict, with civilian homes and businesses reportedly being looted and burned by armed groups. Many Murzuq IDPs throughout South Libya continued to struggle with overcrowded shelters and a shortage of available housing options.
• KIs in all assessed cities reported that additional strain had fallen on their communities due to the influx of Murzuq IDPs. The increased difficulty of finding core items in marketplaces was widely mentioned, as was the lack of support for local families who were hosting IDPs. In some cities, furthermore, the amount of clean drinking water available was reportedly insufficient to support both the local and IDP populations.
• All KIs reported that operational healthcare facilities were present in their cities, though many of these, including Murzuq Hospital itself, were poorly supplied and/or did not have the necessary facilities to be able to deal with a large influx of IDPs with complex health needs.
• Murzuq IDPs in all assessed cities reportedly had a strong preference for a mixed aid package including both in-kind aid and cash transfers.