UNHCR Flash Update Libya (12 April 2019)

Situation Report
Originally published



In light of the dramatically worsening security situation in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, UNHCR urgently calls for the immediate release of refugees and migrants from places of detention. Many detention centres are in areas where there is ongoing fighting. More than 1,500 refugees and migrants are believed to be trapped in detention centres where hostilities are raging. Detention centres that are in proximity to the fighting include Ain Zara, Qasr Bin Ghasheer, Abu Salim and Janzour. UNHCR calls upon the international community to support measures to put an end to detention, while also providing solutions for people trapped in Libya, including humanitarian corridors to evacuate those most vulnerable out of the country.

Fighting is hampering movements while the volatile security situation means it is difficult to access refugees in conflict-affected facilities, as well as to arrange their transportation to safer locations. As a last resort and a life-saving measure, short of successfully advocating for the release of detainees, UNHCR, in coordination with partners, attempted yesterday to relocate all 728 refugees and migrants detained in the Qasr Bin Ghasheer facility to the Zintan detention centre away from the clashes. Although the Zintan centre is far from suitable, it is in a safer location and is accessible from Qasr Bin Ghasheer. UNHCR’s medical partner also has an on-site clinic to rapidly assist refugees and migrants. However, refugees and migrants refused the transfer, asking instead to be evacuated out of Libya. Currently, evacuation possibilities from Libya are extremely limited.

On 9 April, UNHCR relocated 152 refugees from the Ain Zara detention centre in south Tripoli to UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF). The Ain Zara detention centre had been impacted by the clashes. This was the first relocation of detained refugees to the GDF since the recent escalation.

Population movements

The number of displaced persons (IDPs) is increasing and reached over 9,500 individuals displaced since the onset of fighting. Displacement numbers have increased by 60 per cent from 10 to 11 April. Individuals in collective shelters in areas now closer to the frontlines are at risk of secondary displacement. Over the past days, requests for evacuations to safer areas in Tripoli were received from some 3,800 individuals, of whom only some 550 people could be evacuated to date. This means that roughly 8 out of 10 requests for evacuations cannot be completed. This is due to ongoing conflict, and the indiscriminate and possibly deliberate targeting of first responders. At present, over 3,250 civilians remain stranded in areas of conflict.

UNHCR response

UNHCR remains on the ground with both international and national staff, providing emergency assistance to its persons of concern.

To respond to the situation of internal displacement, UNHCR is distributing humanitarian assistance in coordination with LibAid and first-line responders. UNHCR has positioned core-relief items to support 1,000 families in Tripoli and Misrata. Today, LibAid distributed core relief items to 50 IDP families in Garabulli (70 km east of Tripoli) while yesterday, core-relief items were provided to 720 IDPs in western Tripoli. Core-relief items were also provided to 180 IDP families Al-Zahra, west of Tripoli. LibAid is assessing needs and planning new distributions accordingly. UNHCR continues to communicate closely with the Local Crisis Committees to support stranded civilians to reach new collective centres (schools and hotels) established by authorities in and around Tripoli.

For refugees living in urban areas, UNHCR’s Community Day Centre (CDC2) remains operational in Tripoli. Hotlines for refugees and IDPs have been strengthened to support persons located in areas of conflict and with referrals to the CDCs, other humanitarian agencies and first responders.

Key figures:

172,541 Libyans currently internally displaced (IDPs)

445,476 returned IDPs (returns registered in 2016 - 2018)

58,266 registered refugees and asylumseekers in the State of Libya

385 monitoring visits to detention centres so far in 2019

680 asylum-seekers and refugees released from detention so far in 2019

3,303 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers evacuated since November 2017

Funding USD 88.1 M required for 2018