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15 May 2020 – Libya

UNHCR Staff Distributing Emergency Aid in Tripoli to Assist Vulnerable People During Ramadan, (Mohamed Alalem, UNHCR,
UNHCR Staff Distributing Emergency Aid in Tripoli to Assist Vulnerable People During Ramadan, (Mohamed Alalem, UNHCR, "UNHCR Steps up Emergency Assistance in Libya as Continued Conflict and Covid-19 Create more Hardship," UNHCR, 15 May 2020,

Reports indicate that while Libya has taken steps to release some prisoners, its detention centres for holding migrants and asylum seekers remain in operation.

In Tripoli, 466 prisoners were released in early April.

Although many migrant detention centres are still functioning, staff have reportedly been reduced to a minimum. Doctors Without Borders reported that the number of detainees has not been reduced since the beginning of the pandemic, and there are apparently no plans to close the centres. According to Info-Migrants, the situation is critical in the detention centres that do not benefit from NGOs support. Human Rights Watch highlighted the fact that with the conflict in Libya, the health care system is not sufficient to “provide adequate care to the thousands of detainees who live in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons, or to migrants held in abusive detention centers.’’

A spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration said that “the situation for migrants in Libya is worse than it has ever been.’’ The pandemic has not reduced the flow of migrants and when vehicles are intercepted by Libyan border guards, migrants are apprehended and removed to locations in cities.

On 15 May, UNHCR reported, “Amidst deteriorating security conditions, as well as restrictions on movement due to COVID19 … the UN Refugee Agency has provided emergency assistance to some 3,500 refugees and internally displaced Libyans during the last two weeks. The assistance package helped some 1,600 urban refugees, more than 700 refugees being held in detention and close to 1,500 displaced Libyans in different sites across Libya, and included one month’s worth of food and hygiene kits.”

In mid-April, lockdown was established in the West region of the country. There were 64 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on 14 May. The curfew, implemented from 6pm to 6am, has been extended until 17 May. These measures, alongside the increased presence of police in the streets, has greatly impacted undocumented migrants. The fear of deportation prevents them from leaving their home, challenging their ability to access food.

The ICRC warned that “restrictions such as curfews and the closing of borders, while important to curb the spread of the disease, create new challenges in providing humanitarian assistance and maintaining supply chains for food, medicines and basic necessities.’’ On 12 April, the authorities confirmed the deportation of 236 undocumented migrants to Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, and Somalia.