Vulnerable groups exposed in Libyan chaos

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is among the few humanitarian actors still operational on the ground in Libya where a spiral of violence and fighting poses an increasing threat to vulnerable groups with no access to protection. The country hosts an estimated 150.000 migrant workers and 37.000 refugees looking for passage to Europe.
 
 

The fighting in Libya has intensified since July 2014 in and around major cities including Benghazi and the capital of Tripoli. The vulnerable group of migrants and refugees in the country are exposed and unprotected in the chaos and escalating violence.

“In Libya we are faced with a very unfortunate combination of factors - intensified fighting, attacks and destabilization of the country. Further the country hosts a large group of migrants and asylum seekers with no access to basic assistance or protection and finally only a few humanitarian agencies remain active on the ground,” says Martin Vane, Country Director for DRC and the organizations demining unit, Danish Demining Group (DDG).

The large group of mixed migrants - migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa and refugees from Syria and Eritrea were already exposed and unprotected before the present fighting began.

“Mixed migrants in Libya have limited or no legal rights and are often without access to social services. They are facing systematic abuse, random detention and even abduction by armed groups or local authorities. The current escalation of fighting and destabilization further adds to this grave situation,” says Martin Vane and continues: “They become direct targets or risk getting caught between battle lines and at the same time they are in need of basic assistance such as water, food, blankets and medicine.”

DRC visited and monitored more than 10.000 migrants through 51 visits in detention centres and 49 visits in communities within the last year and distributed emergency relief to thousands of families, through a project supported by the European Commission.

“We have been in Libya for a while and our established local networks at community level and the resource of experienced staff enables us to continue providing direct assistance and protection for mixed migrants. However, the needs are increasing faster than our capacity to respond. And right now our biggest challenge is to get funding for the group of mixed migrants,” says Martin Vane.

DRC and DDG have been present in Libya since 2011 and are currently operational in Tripoli as well as Sebha whereas the latter so far is through remote management. The organization is further assessing possible interventions on the Libyan side of the border with Tunisia in the North. Additionally DRC has been involved in awareness raising and capacity building for local partners and authorities. DDG has been implementing an armed violence reduction programme in Sebha since October, 2013, aimed at raising awareness and capacity building among civil society and local authorities.