Operation: Opération: Libya



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
29,500 people benefitted from 59 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) implemented predominantly in the context of the COVID-19 response, as well as non-health, education, and protection projects
15,880  individuals (IDPs and refugees/asylum-seekers combined) received food assistance
13,038 individuals were issued with UNHCR Refugee and Asylum-seeker Certificates
7,911 IDP and returnee households (65,861 individuals) received core relief items
6,062 IDP households (32,032 individuals) received cash assistance
4,210 households (21,007 individuals) received hygiene kits
2021 planning figures
60,000 IDPs and returnees will receive core relief items, shelter or cash assistance 
15,000 people of concern will have access to primary health care
10,000 asylum-seekers will be registered on an individual basis 
2,700 refugees will be submitted for resettlement and/or humanitarian evacuation, including those most at risk in detention
100% of the most vulnerable urban refugees and asylum-seekers will receive cash and food assistance

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 427,814
2019 405,499
2018 270,379


[["Refugees",4184],["Asylum-seekers",40039],["IDPs",278177],["Returned IDPs",105414]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[23.865039,74.07170781,84.99999797,88.65192263,84.09895773000001,92.96838349],"expenditure":[12.12147176,44.152994340000006,44.23830207,46.566646899999995,55.03273295,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[18.82037598,59.926439810000005,74.34143297,61.683092509999994,57.35862495000001,64.428051],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[5.04466302,14.145268,10.658565,26.96883012,26.740332780000003,28.540332489999997]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[9.79650861,33.18794716,34.22795101,39.48337762,39.57416202,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[2.32496315,10.96504718,10.01035106,7.083269280000001,15.45857093,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
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  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The overall security situation in Libya in 2020 remained complex and unpredictable. Active armed conflict triggered ongoing internal displacement, having significant implications on both the UNHCR’s humanitarian response in terms of access to people of concern, delivery of services, and presence of international staff. Following high-level political dialogue throughout the year, talks were held between parties to the conflict—the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the internationally recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA)—resulting in a cessation of hostilities in June 2020 and a comprehensive ceasefire on 23 October 2020. By the end of 2020 and within the framework of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), progress was observed towards the appointment of a new executive committee, with presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of 2021.
Libya was particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when social infrastructure including vital health facilities were heavily impacted by years of armed conflict. As of December 2020, there were over 100,000 registered cases of COVID-19 across the country. Despite the challenging operational environment in Libya, UNHCR continued to provide protection and assistance to IDPs, returnees, refugees, and asylum-seekers, both in urban and non-urban settings, as well as in detention centres and at disembarkation points.
Libya remained a country of transit for people seeking to reach Europe along the central Mediterranean route. Despite border closures and restrictions on movement, rescue and interceptions at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard increased by 29% in 2020 compared to the year prior, with 11,646 individuals intercepted and returned to Libya over 123 operations. There were at least 143 deaths recorded during the year. A reliance on the detention model also continued, though on a lower scale. As of end-2020, there were 1,462 individuals in official detention centres, of whom 329 were of concern to UNHCR, with 389 people released from detention thanks to UNHCR’s advocacy. 

Population trends

In 2020, the number of IDPs decreased from 355,672 individuals in 2019 to 278,177 by end-2020, due in part to a ceasefire occurred in October 2020 and a de-escalation of armed clashes. The number of IDP returnees increased concurrently, with 105,414 returning to their place of origin by year’s end due to the improved security situation. However, an estimated 40,000 IDPs from Tawergha (east of Tripoli) faced ongoing discrimination, reported rights violations, and an inability to return due to ongoing tensions with local militia groups and the prevailing insecurity situation.  

The number of UNHCR-registered refugees and asylum-seekers decreased slightly from 48,000 in 2019 to 44,200 in 2020, the vast majority of whom were in urban settings. During the year, an average of 800 asylum-seekers approached UNHCR each month seeking protection support. At the same time, humanitarian evacuations, resettlement activities and spontaneous departures were paused or delayed owing to COVID-19 movement restrictions, resulting in a subsequent decline of the total number of asylum applications during the year.

Key achievements

  • Following the onset of COVID-19, UNHCR responded to immediate needs of people of concern through Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), with 40 of the total 59 projects supplying medical equipment such as ambulances, generators, PPE and other emergency supplies. UNHCR provided over 21,000 hygiene kits to IDPs, returnees, refugees, and asylum-seekers to improve sanitation and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • UNHCR provided multipurpose cash assistance to 6,062 households (32,032 individuals) IDP and IDP returnee households across Libya.
  • UNHCR partnered with WFP to provide food parcels to vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic, including those released from detention.
  • UNHCR distributed core relief items including mattresses, blankets, jerrycans, kitchen sets, plastic sheets, solar lamps, heaters, winter clothing, raincoats, and infant kits to 7,911 IDP and returnee households (65,861 individuals).
  • UNHCR through partner International Rescue Committee (IRC) provided 24,396 primary health consultations including 16,568 in the urban community, 7,180 in detention and 648 at disembarkation points.
  • UNHCR through partners PUI, LibAid, and IRC, distributed 17,656 hygiene kits and other CRIs at detention centres in both the east and west of Libya.
  • Despite a difficult protection environment, refugees and asylum-seekers continued to have access to protection services including refugee status determination (RSD) and resettlement (RST). Additionally, 13,038 individuals were issued with UNHCR Refugee and Asylum-seeker Certificates, allowing them to access certain services included education and health.  
  • UNHCR oversaw the evacuation of 490 most vulnerable refugees through Emergency Transit Mechanisms (ETM) in Niger and Rwanda, where they were processed for durable solutions including resettlement. A further 2,437 individuals were identified for resettlement.  
  • Over 33,372 IDPs in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, Zwara, Azzawya, Ghat and Murzuq were provided with core relief items. In coordination with local authorities, UNHCR and partners sought the active participation of host communities and IDPs through implementation of quick impact projects to foster peaceful coexistence and encourage resilience.

Unmet needs

  • UNHCR and partner activities were significantly impacted due to national response measures to combat COVID-19, including the closure of Libyan airspace for several months, requiring UNHCR to adapt certain activities including registration, resettlement activities, and emergency evacuations some of which were scaled down or implemented through remote modalities.
  • Due to the COVID-19 situation, the UNHCR was required to reallocate funds to respond to immediate needs of IDPs so as to reduce the economic impact of the pandemic on their socioeconomic welfare. Due to limited funding, the Office was unable to meet the cash needs of 7,644 households or provide core relief items to some 1,089 households. Additionally, UNHCR was unable to provide technical support to some 5,510 IDPs whose emergency shelters required repair.  
  • Due to reduced funding, UNHCR was only able to assist 1,843 persons with specific needs out of a total targeted 3,000 individuals. 

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

  • Thanks to the use of flexible funding, UNHCR was able to channel resources towards emergency life-saving activities, in light of the emerging needs of people of concern during the pandemic.
  • With the prevailing security situation driving displacement during the year, flexible funding allowed scaling up cash assistance to meet heightened people of concern immediate needs.
  • Use of flexible funding allowed UNHCR to partner with WFP to distribute ready-to-eat meals to refugees and asylum-seekers through multiple distribution rounds during the year.

Working environment

In Libya, an estimated 823,000 people need humanitarian assistance, according to the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). Internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees and asylum-seekers are amongst the most vulnerable, with limited or no access to basic commodities and essential services. Political instability and violent clashes have generated ongoing displacement and created a very challenging operational environment for UNHCR. It is expected that the protection environment in Libya will remain restricted and will likely deteriorate even further.

UNHCR estimates that 4,500 people are detained in Libya, out of whom 2,500 are of concern to UNHCR. The condition of refugees and migrants in detention remains of grave concern and identifying solutions for the most vulnerable is a key priority in 2020. In addition, there are over 300,000 IDPs, of whom 128,000 have been newly displaced since clashes restarted in Tripoli in April 2019, and there are more than 447,000 IDP returnees.. While high-level negotiations are underway to end conflict and encourage a resumption of the peace process, UNHCR is prepared to respond to humanitarian needs in 2020.
UNHCR’s role as lead agency for the Protection and Shelter/NFI sectors, as well as co-lead of the Refugee and Migrant Platform (together with IOM and IRC), makes UNHCR a key stakeholder in the coordination structure of the overall humanitarian response in Libya. Partnerships with local NGOs will be essential in order to reach affected populations of concern, and as such, UNHCR will invest in capacity-building for national partners to enhance their response.


Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Strongly advocating for an end to detention of refugees in Libya and establishing alternatives to detention.
  • Pursuing durable solutions for refugees both in detention and living in urban communities. This will be implemented through registration, solid case management and referrals. In 2020, UNHCR will continue to scale-up its resettlement and humanitarian evacuation programmes, in addition to other solutions such as return to a previous country of asylum, voluntary repatriation or family reunification.
  • Enhancing the response for refugees and asylum-seekers living in urban areas through community day centres and community outreach teams. UNHCR will continue to carry out registration, provide medical assistance, cash-based interventions, and provide psychosocial support for people of concern.
  • Providing life-saving assistance at disembarkation points and detention centres and continuing advocacy for a protection-sensitive migration management system.
  • Supporting IDPs and returnees with core-relief items, cash-based interventions, shelter rehabilitation and emergency shelter assistance. UNHCR aims to support over 100,000 people of concern in 2020.
  • Supporting IDPs with enhanced protection monitoring and referral mechanisms and investment in social cohesion through quick-impact projects, benefitting both displaced and hosting communities. 
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

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  • Brazil

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  • Philippines

    private donors