Torn by conflict and political fragmentation since 2011, the ceasefire signed in October 2020 has given way to a new political process, improving service delivery such as electricity, cash assistance and COVID-19 vaccination. The situation remains dire as the conflict-shattered economy and COVID-19 have exhausted the population’s coping capacity. The return of internally displaced people is hampered by unexploded ordnance and lack of basic services and livelihood opportunities. The EU is the largest aid donor to the most vulnerable people in Libya.
Many people in Libya have lost their livelihoods and the country’s health system is close to collapse.
Significant return impediments for those still displaced include lack of safety and security and access to basic services. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in overcrowded detention centres face severe protection risks.
In 2021, the humanitarian community aims at reaching the most vulnerable people. They are around 451,000 individuals, out of the total 1.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance identified under the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). Access to health care is an overwhelming need for 1.2 million people, within a system lacking in resources, staff and equipment to deal effectively with the rise of coronavirus cases.
Conflict and COVID-19 have led to a temporary increase in food prices since the start of the pandemic. Daily labourers, refugees and migrants have lost their income and are struggling to meet their basic needs such as food, health care, education, protection, shelter, water and sanitation.
They are also vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and exposed to the threat of explosives and unexploded ordnance littering the country and requiring immediate action. In the still volatile security context, respect for international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles is a must.
Since 2011, the European Union has allocated €84.3 million in humanitarian aid to Libya, including €9 million in 2020 and another €9 million in 2021. The 2021 funding helps to address the most pressing needs in the country and supports COVID-19 vaccination.
Part of the support is provided in the form of multipurpose cash assistance to extremely vulnerable people who are often excluded from social protection schemes and resort to negative coping strategies such as skipping meals or keeping their children out of school to work. In emergencies, aid also includes food, mattresses, blankets and hygiene kits’ supply.
Protection interventions focus on the impact of the conflict on civilians, targeting in particular survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. The EU also funds child protection activities and education for children who are out of school or at risk of dropping out.
Health interventions include emergency and primary healthcare, physical rehabilitation and orthopaedic services, mental health and psychosocial support, reproductive health services and care for survivors of gender-based violence.
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, EU humanitarian partners stepped up with awareness raising campaigns and hygiene promotion among vulnerable communities. They also adapted aid programmes to limit the risk of infection, switching to alternative approaches for psychosocial support and education.
EU humanitarian aid has helped restore education in the East of the country, allowing children to learn in a safe and conducive environment. In 2021, the EU continues to support protection and education services in the East, West and South, through direct teaching or remote learning. Legal assistance is helping beneficiaries to receive legal documentation such as birth and marriage certificates.
The EU also funds the coordination and logistics of the humanitarian response, supporting the UN Humanitarian Air Service to facilitate movements and engaging in advocacy to promote respect for International Humanitarian Law.
EU-funded humanitarian aid is indiscriminately given to vulnerable people, based on needs and regardless of their nationality or status.
Libya also receives development and early-recovery assistance through other EU funding sources such as the EU Trust Fund for Africa. In a nexus approach, the EU’s humanitarian aid and development departments work together to ensure a link between short-term emergency assistance and longer-term development aid, notably in the health sector.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €5 million of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in northern Africa, including €3 million in Libya.