ProbabilityHighly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely
ImpactVery low Moderate MajorRead this risk
The road connecting Abu Qurayn and Misrata is a strategic artery, which might soon be subject to increasingly intense attacks by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF). Peace efforts are stagnating, while the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and its allies are under increasing economic and military pressure. With UN negotiations slowing down after the resignation of UN Envoy Ghassan Salamé and multiple ceasefire violations reported at the end of February, the new battlefront might be definitively opened.? Misrata is one of only five enclaves under GNA control and connects by road directly to Tripoli. This eastern front of GNA forces has been under pressure since the LAAF entered Sirte on 10 January and took its Ghardabiya military airbase, a vantage point for a military campaign.? Furthermore, Misratan militias have shown signs of internal division, as some of those responsible for the defence of Sirte withdrew, leaving the city to the LAAF.? Misratan militias have given essential military support to the GNA in Tripoli, including during the offensive started in April 2019.? An escalation of ground clashes from Abu Qurayn and more intense shelling along the main road up to and including Misrata would oblige the GNA to divert forces from the capital, thinning out its defences, and put further pressure on the Tripoli government, as it struggles economically with a LAAFimposed blockade of oil exports.?
Routine violations of the 2011 arms embargo and continuous inflow of foreign weapons and personnel (benefitting both parties), are likely to result in the LAAF having enough resources to open the battlefront.?
The humanitarian consequences of the offensive would resemble those in Tripoli. The Misrata region already hosts the third highest number of people in need countrywide: 83,000 of the regional population of 580,000.? The number of people in need and overall level of need will grow. Based on recent displacement in the region, thousands from Abu Qurayn, Tawergha, and Misrata would be expected to flee to Misrata city and Sirte, adding to the 48,800 IDPs in both regions, with some thousands going as far east as Benghazi.? Civilians remaining in the cities to protect their homes and employment will risk injury or death related to shelling and crossfire, as well as human rights violations. Detainees will also be exposed.? Extreme economic and livelihoods losses would ensue. Some 70% of the 400,000 Misratans work in trade and industry. The insecurity will shrink production and increase unemployment.? One-third of Misratans already spend over 75% of their income on food and they lack coping capacity; the livelihoods of several of the 59,000 migrants in the region surviving on informal work would also be affected.? Targeting of health facilities and personnel will further diminish access to medicines and specialised care. Disruption of waste management will increase the risk of disease outbreak.? Schools will likely become increasingly overcrowded - 11% of schools are already closed regionally - and children exposed to danger travelling to and from school.? As the Tripoli Mitiga airport is often non-operational, a closure of Misrata’s airport will deprive civilians of yet another exit and humanitarians of a supply route.? Impediments to cargo delivery due to attacks on the seaport will also undermine access.?