Conflict in Libya

What’s happening in Libya? Five facts you need to know.

Fighting in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, has been escalating since the weekend. So far, 47 people have been killed according to the WHO and the violence shows no sign of stopping. People living in Tripoli are caught in the midst of clashes between heavily armed groups, putting them at risk of serious harm.

The International Rescue Committee is on the ground responding to the people most in need. Our staff are providing healthcare and psychological support to help people, particularly women and girls, overcome trauma.

Here are five facts about the situation on the ground:

Khal, a 10 month old boy from Eritrea, sits on his mother's lap in the Community Development Centre in Tripoli, where the IRC is providing healthcare whilst fighting escalates. Photo: IRC/AOhanesian

1. Over 6,000 people have been forced to flee due to the fighting since Friday

Years of conflict in Libya has caused 97,000 people to flee their homes. The UN have reported that a further 6,000 people have been displaced since Friday due to the fighting in Tripoli. As conditions worsen, we can also expect to see an increase in the number of people attempting to escape across the Mediterranean Sea, at a time when search and rescue efforts have been withdrawn.

2. The next few days could define Libya’s future for years to come

The violence has continued to intensify over the last few days despite international condemnation. On Monday, an air strike at Migita International Airport temporarily closed the only functioning airport in Tripoli. The seriousness of the violence cannot be underestimated – if it continues to escalate, more families will be put at risk and forced to flee their homes in a country that’s in turmoil.

3. People held in detention centres are some of the worst affected

The IRC's Medical Team Leader, Dr. Mohamad Al Ajnaf provides vital care at the in Abu Qurayn, a small village in northern Libya. Photo: IRC/AOhanesian

There are 5,700 refugees and asylum-seekers currently trapped in detention centres in Libya. Those who are detained are kept in cramped, overcrowded cells and given no indication of when they’ll be released. The conditions are atrocious and people are completely reliant on other people bringing them water, food and medicine. The fighting in Tripoli could leave them stranded without access to these basic human needs.

4. Life-saving services have been cut off

Even before this fighting erupted people living in Libya were lacking the services they needed to survive. There’s not enough doctors, medicine or equipment to keep hospitals running and 17% of them have been closed down. This recent outbreak has also damaged roads and communication lines – limiting people’s ability to travel to safety and contact loved ones.

5. Europe can help people caught in the middle of this conflict

The fighting in Tripoli has brought the crisis in Libya to the headlines across the world, highlighting the crucial role that European countries have to support people in need. European leaders must call for an urgent political solution to end the violence. Refugees and migrants continue to be at a heightened risk. Many are trapped in detention centres or living in the shadows. At this dangerous time, it is now more crucial than ever for the European Union to address policies such as allowing arbitrary detention and the withdrawal of search rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea that put people at risk.

Find out more

Understand more about the situation in Libya and the IRC's response.