• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 654,000 People displaced [?]
  • 493 Fatalities reported [?]
  • 654,000 People in Need [?]



Libya’s instability and lawlessness, as well as its strategic location, have allowed smuggling and human trafficking networks, dominated by armed groups, to flourish. The country is a gateway for migrants and refugees hoping to cross to Europe via the Central Mediterranean route. However, most migrants arrive with the hope of finding work and remain in Libya for a longer period.?

As of July, Libya counts 665,000 migrants and refugees, mostly Sub-Saharan and North African nationals but also nationals from Asia and the Middle East.? The actual number may be higher as it is difficult to identify all refugees and migrants, some of whom are held captive by smugglers or in unofficial detention centres. Lack of income, insecurity and conflict, and the inability to meet food needs in home countries are reported as the main push factors to reach Libya.?

Migrants and refugees in Libya are among the poorest people in Libya and often lack enough financial resources to support their basic needs. Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to extreme violence by Libyan security forces, militias, smuggling and trafficking networks, and criminal gangs. Many migrants face brutal conditions including severe abuse, forced labour, overcrowded detention centres, and kidnapping along the way.?

On 30 October 2019, a deal between Italy and Libya’s Tripoli based Government of National Accord (GNA), signed in 2017 and endorsed by the EU, was automatically renewed. The deal aims to restrict the number of migrants arriving in Italy by providing training and resources to the Libyan coastguard who stop migrant boats at sea, and by financing detention centres in Libya.?

Latest Developments


For more information on the humanitarian impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, please see the relevant paragraph below.

ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find more information related to the outbreak.

21/04/2020: Migrants returned to the port of Tripoli by the Libyan Coast Guard in the past weeks have found increasing difficulties in disembarking, with Tripoli-based authorities citing security reasons. Amid shelling of the seaport, 277 migrants were kept on a vessel overnight between 9 and 10 April before fleeing; around 200 of them were transferred to official and unofficial detention centres, where they cannot be reached by aid workers. Procedures for future disembarkation in Libyan ports are unclear.?

10/02/2020: A 2017 memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Tripoli-based government and the government of Italy (GoI) was renewed on 2 February. The MoU foresees financial support from the GoI to Libyan maritime authorities for search and rescue operations which return migrants to Libya. Negotiations on changes to the MoU are ongoing. Protection threats and difficult access to food and healthcare affect migrants in Libya (see Key Priorities below).?

06/02/2020: On 31 January, UNHCR announced the suspension of activities at the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, one year after the inauguration of activities due to safety concerns and overcrowding. The GDF accommodated up to 1,200 refugees and asylum seekers before resettlement, repatriation, or evacuation. As the conflict intensified more people entered the centre, until in November 2019 UNHCR could no longer guarantee protection. Shelling and the training of Libyan soldiers have occurred close to the facility and the centre has also become unsanitary. The closure has increased the workload of other facilities such as the Community Day Centre in the capital that provides humanitarian and medical services. As of 7 February, less than 550 refugees and asylum seekers remained in the facility and their situation is still unclear. ?

COVID-19 Outbreak


Libya has reported 61 confirmed cases and three deaths as of 1 May. Migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are struggling to earn any money as construction and other activities came to a halt due to the outbreak and continuing conflict. Main reported needs include cash for buying food and paying rent amid a general increase in prices. Overcrowding in detention centres and private accommodation, as well as extremely limited access to health services, expose 654,000 migrants and 48,600 registered refugees and asylum seekers to higher risks of being infected and without medical care. Registration and other essential services provided by UNHCR in Tripoli were suspended in March and April due to COVID related curfews.?


Key Priorities


Protection: Grave human rights violations by state and non-state actors including armed groups with links to either government. Violations include sexual violence, torture, unlawful killings, extortion, abduction and kidnapping, slavery, and arbitrary detention. ?

Health care: Over 250,000 migrants are in need of healthcare assistance. Refugees and migrants experience assorted access barriers including discrimination, difficulties paying medical expenses, lack of transportation, and distance to medical facilities. ?

Food security: Some 94,000 migrants are in need of food assistance. High food prices and insufficient financial means result in negative coping mechanisms such as skipping meals or going a whole day without food. Single households with children and migrants who have recently arrived in Libya appear to experience more difficulties accessing food. ?

Detention Centres


As of November 2019, over 4,500 refugees and migrants are reportedly held in official detention centres, managed by The Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) under the GNA administration, but effectively controlled by armed groups. ?Numbers of people detained in clandestine detention centres are unknown but human rights groups estimate thousands are held in such facilities. Migrants and refugees intercepted at sea are often automatically transferred to detention centres. Conditions in detention centres are catastrophic. Severe overcrowding and a serious lack of food, drinking water, and access to WASH facilities raise health concerns and increase the risk of spread of infectious diseases. ?Children are generally placed in the same cells as adults. Migrants and refugees in detention centres experience torture, abuse, extortion, and forced labour. Assistance is limited and humanitarian access to the centres is restricted. Unofficial detention centres are inaccessible for aid workers. ?Since the start of the conflict in Tripoli in April 2019, migrants in detention centres have been targeted in the fighting. Detainees have been forcibly conscripted by armed groups. On the night of 2 July, two airstrikes hit Tajoura detention centre in the outskirts of Tripoli, killing 53 people, including six children, and wounding 130 more.