SEATTLE — Libya, an oil-rich nation in North Africa with a vulnerable population of over 6.4 million, has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011 following the assassination of leader Muammar Gadaffi after a 42-year rule. The National Transitional Council has struggled to restore order and deal with rebels. The de facto U.N-backed government in Libya, the Government of National Accord, is currently tasked with ending the strife between the various fringe militia groups in the country.
The country is lacking in access to primary healthcare, security, sanitation and water. Over 20 percent of the public healthcare system is affected by conflict. Additionally, Libya has been the epicenter of the European refugee crisis and is still struggling to find a sustainable solution to the large-scale crisis. Unfortunately, over 2750 people have lost their lives in the journey from Libya to Italian shores this year alone. An estimated 204,458 Libyans are listed as IDPs, or internally displaced people.
An estimated 1.3 million individuals are currently in dire need of humanitarian aid in Libya. A majority of people face the added threat of human rights violations and the peril of modern slavery. According to the International Labor Organization, about 40 million individuals are currently trapped in the slavery practice.
Libya has become a dangerous crossing point for refugees and migrants trying to flee to Europe in recent years, with many facing threats from human trafficking smugglers and organized crime rings. At present, Libya’s trafficking hub at Sabratha in Tripoli is becoming infamous for people smuggling.
However, Italy and its other EU counterparts have been training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard to combat the threat by routinely intercepting boats and conducting border checks. Detention centers in Libya are slowly closing down, as conditions are deplorable and individuals are made more vulnerable by the increased risk posed.
Recently, despite major funding gaps, more than 40,000 individuals have been reaping the benefits of humanitarian aid in Libya. For example, UNICEF-led aid initiatives pertaining to sanitation are helping communities across Sabha and Tripoli. Rehabilitation centers are also being set up to cater to the needs of school children. On the health front, the WHO is shipping emergency health kits for non-communicable diseases to Libya in 2018.
The government is also assisting with the provision of humanitarian aid in Libya by providing medical aid to the city of Derna. The aid is especially focused on supplying vaccinations for children. Recent air strikes are impoverishing the city further.
African and European ministers are presently working in collaboration to improve living conditions for migrants in Libya and cracking down on people smuggling and human trafficking. Some of the solutions include opening up new avenues for refugees so that they are given the option of crossing into European countries by legal means.
The European Commission also pledged €10 million in humanitarian assistance for people impacted by the instability in the country. The funding is a larger proportion of the resources allocated towards supporting various aid agendas like the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
Moreover, during a meeting on human trafficking, diplomats from the United Nations Security Council implored investigators to focus on slave auctions being conducted in Libya. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres alerted the committee of the dangers for refugees from Syria, Iraq and Somalia.
A resolution was recently passed by the UNSC, calling upon countries to enforce anti-trafficking laws, launch investigations and play a greater role in cracking down on organized crime networks.
To conclude, humanitarian aid in Libya is benefiting the country to a large extent. It can hopefully build the foundation for more social stability in the future, as it involves the integration of many key stakeholder groups and a combination of both long-term and short-term humanitarian aid in Libya.
– Shivani Ekkanath