GENEVA, Switzerland, May 30, 2019/ — The ongoing conflict in and around Tripoli continues to drive civilian casualties and displacement. Some 146 civilian casualties, including 40 civilian deaths, have been recorded to date. As these figures include only those cases that could be individually verified as civilian, they must be considered a minimum.
82,300 people had to flee their homes in search of safety, according to displacement tracking by the International Organization for Migration. Half of them are estimated to be children. Humanitarians estimated that over 100,000 civilians remain in immediate front-line areas, with over 400,000 more in areas directly impacted by clashes (within 1 kilometre of the front). Concerns are high for civilians remaining these areas, as conditions deteriorate and emergency services are unable to get through.
Humanitarians are extremely concerned about the safety and wellbeing of 3,400 refugees and migrants trapped in detentions centres already exposed to, or in close proximity to fighting. Access to food, water and healthcare is severely restricted at these facilities. Refugees and migrants outside of detention centres are also at heightened risk, and face discrimination in accessing collective shelters and other services.
Where access allows, humanitarian partners have reached over 47,000 people with critical aid since the onset of Tripoli clashes in early April. However, insufficient access and an outstanding funding gap are severely hampering response operations.
To date, the Humanitarian Flash Appeal for US$10.2 million for the Tripoli response is only 40 per cent funded or pledged. In May, CERF allocated US$ 2 million to support immediate requirements in the appeal, including the provision of emergency health services. Funding towards the Libya Humanitarian Response Plan remains only 10.5 per cent funded.
Limited access to food, water and electricity
Water and electricity cuts are being reported from frontline areas. Water supply from the ‘Man-Made River’ (MMR) network into Tripoli has reduced by 37 per cent. Some 1.5 million people, including 600,000 children, rely on the MMR as their primary supplier of freshwater.
Reduced water supply is the result of a stall in required maintenance works to the network, as international workers were evacuated in context of the hostilities. Disruptions at pumping stations have placed additional pressure on the limited water supply. An apparently deliberate shutdown at a water pumping facility in Zliten on 26 May temporarily disrupted water provision to the coastal cities of Misrata, Garabolli, Al Khoms and Zliten. The week before, on 19 May, an armed group had stormed a pumping facility in Jabal al-Hasawna, temporarily disrupting water supply to Tripoli and the western region.
“Continuous attacks on the water system further jeopardize levels of health and hygiene among the civilian population”, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya Maria Ribeiro warned last week, “particularly those most vulnerable, including children, and cause further hardship and possible displacement.”
Supply lines to six power stations in the outskirts of Tripoli have been severed as a result of the clashes, disrupting electricity supply in conflict-affected areas, according to Libya’s main national electrical company. Technical teams have been unable to inspect the damage or carry out repairs due to the security situation. Cuts to electricity, used for water pumping, further impact the availability of water in affected areas.
Market access and availability of food is very limited in conflict areas. Humanitarian actors continue to appeal for a humanitarian truce to allow civilians trapped in conflict areas to move freely to safer areas and for assistance to reach those in urgent need.
Women and girls at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse
The risk of Gender-based Violence, particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, continues to increase as a direct result of ongoing conflict. An increasing degree of lawlessness has been reported in conflict areas, including sexual violence perpetrated by combatants. Food insecurity, decreased cash liquidity and market access and availability of water and electricity are all critical factors that further expose women and girls already traumatized by the ongoing conflict and who, as a result, need of some form of psychosocial support, safety and protection.
Non-Libyan women and girls are at greater risk of GBV, further heightened by their overall more limited shelter options.
UNFPA in collaboration with implementing partners has deployed mobile teams comprised of specialized social workers and psychologists to provide GBV-related services to IDPs in collective shelters and urban settlements. But funding to upscale GBV programming in the outskirts of Tripoli is urgently needed.