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Project News: COVID-19 and its impact on vulnerable populations in Libya, new briefing note

8 October 2020

Within the framework of the EU-funded “Strategic and institutional management of migration in Libya” project, ICMPD has published a briefing note entitled “Libya and COVID-19: How the pandemic has affected migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons”.

The aim of the note is to understand the challenges faced by these vulnerable populations in Libya in the context of COVID-19 and to discuss how the response to the pandemic with regards to migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) can be improved by the national authorities and the international community in the short term and in the longer term.

The briefing note is a pertinent publication because it explores the direct and indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrants, refugees and IDPs in Libya as well as Libyans who live abroad, and provides a set of recommendations necessary to avoid a worsening of the crisis currently faced by these vulnerable populations. The COVID-19 response in Libya is facing severe challenges, which are further exacerbated by the context of the ongoing conflict. Libya’s response to the crisis lacks a specific focus on migration, which impacts crosscutting issues pertaining to migration such as border management, human security, trafficking, smuggling and more, and it hampers the coherence and effectiveness of the overall COVID-19 response.

Other concrete challenges include the lack of significant funding and financial resources, the political and military landscape, as well as the limited capacities of Libya’s healthcare sector. Furthermore, the suspension of certain critical activities by international organizations since the outbreak of the crisis may contribute to a worsening of the already precarious situation of migrants, refugees and IDPs. For instance, it has been increasingly difficult for aid workers to access and offer protection to migrants because of social distancing measures and heightened insecurity.

The briefing note presents several short term and medium term recommendations. Short-term recommendations include promoting the provision of funding by the international community for a holistic and conflict-sensitive response plan, and coordinating with the Libyan authorities to facilitate the inclusion of vulnerable communities in response plans and activities. In the longer term, recommendations include engaging with the Libyan authorities to implement COVID-19 response policies and training packages, as well as engaging with the Libyan municipal authorities to enhance long-term crisis management capacities to be able to improve future responses to crises.  The general recommendation of the briefing note focuses on the need for the support of international stakeholders for the establishment of a national migration strategy that respects the human rights of migrants.

The briefing note was written by Emadeddin Badi, an independent consultant and researcher, who is a non-resident Senior Fellow with the Middle East Program at the Atlantic Council, and previously a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute as well as resident Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute.

It was developed within the framework of the current “Strategic and institutional management of migration in Libya” project, which is sponsored by the EU and implemented by ICMPD. The overall aim of the project is to support the Libyan administration at central and local level, Libyan civil society and academia, in their efforts to develop the prerequisites for migration governance with the aim to improve the management of migration flows and the living conditions of migrants in Libya.


Download the briefing note here.

Read more about the “Strategic and institutional management of migration in Libya” project here.