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Update on the Libya situation

© UNHCR/F.Kayal

Over 800,000 people have departed Libya, not including Libyan returnees. This includes over 400,000 arrivals in Tunisia (including 42,000 Tunisian, 177,000 Libyans and 182,000 third country nationals (TCNs)), and 286,000 in Egypt (including 95,000 Egyptians, 117,000 Libyans and 74,000 TCNs).

So far, 176,000 people have been evacuated from Tunisia. However, there are over 3,800 people of concern at Tunisia’s border with Libya. According to local authorities, 2,000 families have found refuge with host communities in Douze and Kabili. UNHCR has visited the area to assess the situation of Libyan families hosted by the local Tunisian community and with a view to assisting these families. There are 2,700 Libyan refugees hosted by local communities in Djerba. In interviews with these refugees, UNHCR reported that an increasing number of Libyans are waiting to flee Tripoli due to intensified bombing in the city, the kidnapping and assault of women and girls, and the forceful recruitment of child soldiers by the government forces.

Over 53,000 Libyan refugees have fled to Tunisia through the Dehiba border point, while many more Libyans are reportedly fleeing into Tunisia illegally. Military clashes have resumed on the Libyan side of the border between government and opposition forces for control of Dehiba border area, which remains under the control of the opposition forces. MSF and Human Rights Watch have reported that an unconfirmed number of Libyans and TCNs are stranded at the Dehiba border and denied entry into Tunisia. UNHCR will give tents to the local authorities should they need to relocate some families away from the Dehiba border.

There are now over 4,700 people hosted in the Ras Jdir camps in Tunisia. Of this total, over 3,000 are persons of concern to UNHCR. More than 1,200 Libyan refugees are also hosted in camps in Tatouine governorate and UNHCR has begun the distribution of 4,000 food packages in Tataouine to Libyans residing outside the camps.

In Egypt, over 287,000 people have entered the country through Saloum since 19 February - out of whom 98,000 were Egyptians and 114,000 Libyans, while 118,000 people have entered Libya - out of whom 23, 000 were Egyptians and 90,000 Libyans. This means that the net influx of Libyans entering Egypt through Saloum amounts to 24,500. UNHCR has erected two rub halls to relocate women and children from the Departure Halls, with a third on the way to accommodate TCNs expected by boat in the coming days from Misrata. So far, UNHCR has distributed 2,500 mats, 9,600 blankets and 400 mattresses to refugees in Egypt, with thousands of meals distributed by the World Food Programme and Egyptian Red Crescent. 

In eastern Libya, the Libyan Committee for Humanitarian Aid and Relief (LCHR) estimates that there are 200,000 internally displaced Libyans, of which 58,000 live in spontaneous settlement sites. UNHCR and LCHR are developing shelter solutions for IDP’s living in public facilities. UNHCR is also making preparations in Benghazi for new arrivals from Kufra, where fighting is reported to have taken place.

Over 5,000 metric tons of medical supplies, food, shelter and non-food items have been delivered into Libya, the vast majority through the port at Misrata. However, sanctions and the departure of both skilled and non-skilled third country nationals are hindering the replenishment of essential commodities such as agricultural products and medicine, with the latter sector suffering severe deficits of medical staff in conflict-affected areas. UN staff are also still absent from Tripoli after its evacuation.

UNHCR is now in need of USD 77.6 million for the Libya situation. The agency continues to appeal to donors for urgent cash contributions towards the UNHCR supplementary budget. Without additional contributions, a critical shortfall of funding for UNHCR’s operations in Libya and neighbouring countries is likely to affect vital humanitarian assistance for tens of thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting in the western highlights.