The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said the number of internally displaced persons in Libya has doubled since last September to more than 434,000.
UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said at a press briefing in Geneva on Monday that: “The internally displaced comprise 83,697 families according to countrywide data collected by the UNHCR and its partners from local crisis committees, municipalities and non-government organisations (NGOs) directly involved in providing assistance to internally displaced persons, including the distribution of food and non-food aid.” Fleming noted that the number could be higher but that it is hard to estimate the true total due to heavy fighting that prevents access to various regions.
Fleming also pointed out that the largest bloc of internally displaced persons in Libya, estimated at 105,000 people, is in the eastern city of Benghazi in eastern Libya. Here, the UNHCR has been working with the city municipality as well as local and international NGOs to distribute items such as mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets to some 6,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced persons between March and June.
According to Fleming, the main areas of concern in Benghazi relate to “the collapse of the health sector, the closure of more than 60 schools as well as universities, and criminality stemming from the absence of rule of law.”
Fleming noted that the conflict in Libya has also undermined the security of civilians and prevented the safe return of internally displaced persons in Misrata, Tripoli, Warshafana and the Nafusa Mountains in the west, and Awbari in the south, stressing that internally displaced persons and host communities in these areas have been equally affected by diminishing access to education, affordable health care, electricity and other key services.