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Protection of displaced Libyans: risks, responses and border dynamics

Working papers

Written by Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy, Victoria Metcalfe-Hough, Sarah Adamczyk

Working papers

Since the uprisings across the Arab world in 2011, Libya has been locked in an escalating political and security crisis that has resulted in the breakdown of its state institutions, widespread violence and criminality. The initial uprising quickly evolved into a protracted and dynamic armed conflict.

The UN estimates that more than 1.6 million people have been directly affected, including hundreds of thousands who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, either within Libya itself or across the border in Tunisia. Displaced populations are acutely vulnerable to threats from targeted or generalised violence and face challenges in accessing public services and adequate shelter. Protection and assistance for these vulnerable people has been inadequate.

This paper focuses on the situation of Libyans displaced since 2011, both within Libya itself and in Tunisia. While the legal frameworks governing their rights during displacement differ, many of the drivers of their displacement are shared, and they face similar threats to their physical, legal and material safety. The paper explores these threats, and what strategies displaced Libyans have adopted to protect themselves. It considers the local capacities and social capital displaced individuals have drawn on to mitigate threats, including in relation to family, tribal or other affiliations.

Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy and Ghada Al-Bayati with Victoria Metcalfe-Hough and Sarah Adamczyk