ALERT – Libya INGO Forum’s statement on the escalation of violence in Tripoli

Posted by: on Apr 23, 2019 | No Comments

The Libya INGO Forum, an independent platform composed of 17 international NGOs providing humanitarian assistance in Libya, is deeply concerned about the humanitarian consequences resulting from the escalation of violence in and around Tripoli.

Over the last two weeks, nearly 27,000 people have fled their homes in Tripoli and the surrounding area[1]. According to the World Health Organization, 213 people have already been killed and 1009 wounded, including 18 civilians dead and 65 wounded[2]. As the situation rapidly deteriorates and indiscriminate attacks intensify, civilian casualties and displacements are expected to increase further. People’s lives have been drastically affected by the conflict and an increasing number of people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Many civilians remain trapped in conflict zones and are unable to move to safer areas. Evacuation of those in need has proven to be challenging and medical personnel and ambulances are being indiscriminately or directly targeted. Already three medical workers have been killed and one injured since the outbreak of hostilities. Not only does it endanger the lives of health workers and their patients, but it also disrupts the provision of critically needed services.

The plight of refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in or near the conflict areas is of utmost concern. While already facing dire conditions, the ongoing fighting puts them further at risk and alternatives for their relocation are quickly running out as the conflict escalates.  

The recent surge in violence proves, once again, that Libya is not a place of safety where migrants and refugees can be returned. Despite the country’s fragile and unstable situation, the EU, in an effort to halt migrants and refugees at sea, continues to outsource its responsibilities to Libya. Those who try to cross the Mediterranean run the risk of either being brought back to a war-torn country or, in the absence of search rescue (SAR) capacities in the Central Mediterranean, losing their lives at sea.

The members of the Libya INGO Forum call on:

The parties to the conflict to:

  • Abide by International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws, guarantee safe, unimpeded and unfettered humanitarian access and allow for the safe passage of civilians and medical evacuation.
  • Immediately cease attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructures, and stop the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Explosive remnants of war will continue to place civilians in harm’s way long after the conflict has ceased.

The European Union and its Member States to:

  • Acknowledge that their migration policies result in the return of migrants and refugees to an unsafe country, and therefore immediately reconsider those policies. Any person rescued at sea must be – without delay – authorized to disembark to a safe port as required by international law.
  • Urgently increase EU member States-supported SAR capacity in the Central Mediterranean; Review policies that prevent NGOs from conducting lifesaving humanitarian operations at sea.

The international community to:

  • Commit to increase resettlement places and expedite humanitarian evacuation of those held in detention centres to a safe place outside of Libya where protection and medical needs of refugees and migrants can be assessed.  

The International Maritime Organization to:

  • Declassify the recognition of the Libya SAR zone. Libya is not a safe haven and is not in a position to conduct adequate search and rescue.

For more information, please contact:

Theophile Renard, Libya INGO Forum Coordinator:

[1] According to DTM-IOM data

[2] As of 18th April 2019