- In a breakthrough, both the Tripoli and Tobruk-based government officials announced an indefinite ceasefire and agreed to find a political solution for the unification of the country under the auspices of the United Nations.
- During the third quarter of 2020, Libya continued to face the protracted armed conflict, particularly in Sirte and Jufra region. The humanitarian situation was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the additional pressure from financial instability and the frequent power and water outages led to civil unrest in the country.
- Despite all these challenges, UNICEF and partners continued providing critical assistance to the vulnerable children and communities in Libya. During the reporting period, UNICEF reached out to 258,642 children and women with primary health care services. 12,195 people were provided with safe drinking water while 2,143 children were referred to child protection specialized services. UNICEF also supported the Ministry of Education in recording 2,000 hours of online sessions on core subjects.
- UNICEF Libya’s Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal requires US$ 19.8 million to reach 268,000 children across Libya. The UNICEF Libya humanitarian response remains underfunded, with current funding gaps at approximately US$ 14.8 million (75 per cent).
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The humanitarian context in Libya remains volatile and continues to affect children and their caregivers, particulrly the most vulnerable ones such as refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, internally displaced person (IDPs), returnees and host communities. Many of these families struggle to access essential basic services; Women and children are often exposed to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. Following an intensification of conflict in southern Tripoli, Tarhuna and Sirte in June 2020, nearly 28,000 people (5,550 families), including 11,000 children, were forced to flee their homes to various municipalities in Eastern Libya. Moreover, the situation is further complicated by the economic instability. The oil blockade since January 2020 has led to inconsistent revenues and an increase in the general debt of the state, creating liquidity issues for the general public, 30 per cent of whom are covered by the public payroll. The sitaution was further excebrated by the recurrent and prolonged electricty cut, which resulted in frequent and long interruptions of water supply throughout the country, forcing people to use bottled water and unsafe water sources, just as summer temperatures hit up to 50°C. In late August, this led to thousands of protesters taking to the streets protesting about deteriorating living conditions, persistent water and electricity cuts, resulting in civil rest in the country and reshuffling within the Government’s ministries.
The armed conflict has resulted in a severe need for the provision of services to migrants living in conflict zones or displaced by the conflict. The provision of alternative to detention solutions for migrants officially held in arbitrary detention remains a serious challenge and need. Shelter for vulnerable migrants remains a pressing need in Libya. Children on the move, especially unaccompanied and separated children, live in extremely dire conditions across the country. As of 30 September, 2020, Libya is hosting 46,274 refugees and asylum seekers, including almost 16,000 children. The quarter also recorded high numbers of fatailities on the Central Mediterranean Route, which claimed migrant lives at an alarming rate. Between July - September 2020, at least 86 people reportedly died and 90 were counted as missing while trying to cross over to Europe. As of 28 September, a total of 9,448 migrants (an increase of 3,673 migrants, including 211 women and 224 minors since last quarter) were intercepted by the Libya Coast Guards and disembarked in Libya.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further caused major disruptions in the lives of children and their families. As of 30 September, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 35,208 with 559 deaths and 19,894 recoveries, with Tripoli recording the highest number of positive cases. The COVID-19 movement restrictions impacted the routine immunization, which was already facing issues due to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and interruption in the supply chain of critical vaccines at the health facility level. The schools continue to be closed since March, with the projected plans to open in late December in the West and mid-November in the East. The closure of schools and other learning centers placed an incredible strain on the education and well being of children. Children who were previously not considered to be at risk of dropping out of school before the COVID-19 pandemic, are now at risk due to pandemic-related issues, such as economic instability and movement restrictions. They also face an increased risk of negative coping mechanisms, such as child labor and child marriage. Secondly, remedial and catch-up classes had to shift to a distance education modality. This is challenging as children may not have access to distance learning tools, internet, and additional support from teachers has not been available.