Internal displacement doubles in Libya in less than one year
The United Nations (UN) says the number of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside the North African country of Libya has doubled since September last year.
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said during a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday that the number of the IDPs had increased from an estimated 230,000 recorded last September to over 434,000.
Fleming said data collected by the office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees showed that the number comprises 83,697 families.
The UN body added that the actual number of the displaced people could be much higher as the agency is faced with limited access to affected areas as a result of violence in the country.
She said that reduced communication and monitoring also made it difficult for the body to produce exact figures.
Fleming specifically referred to the city of Benghazi and said, “The main areas of concern in Benghazi relate to the collapse of the health sector, the closure of more than 60 schools as well as universities, criminality stemming from the absence of rule of law, and frequent reports of civilian casualties as a result of fighting in the coastal city.”
According to the UNHCR, the IDPs as well as host communities in these areas have also been equally affected by diminishing access to education, affordable health care, electricity and other key services.
Displaced people are also being threatened by landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Libya has been the scene of violence and chaos since the 2011 uprising that led to the ouster and subsequent death of the country’s long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The capital is currently under the control of the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia, while Tobruk is home to the internationally recognized government.
Warring sides are now in talks to end months of fighting in the North African country.