Precarious situation for vulnerable populations in Libya

March 27, 2012

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Precarious situation for vulnerable populations in Libya © Eddy McCall

As Libya grapples with consolidating state authority and restoring normalcy after the revolution, groups of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people remain in a vulnerable and precarious situation. MSF is continuing to provide basic medical- and psychological assistance to these groups in Tripoli. In parallel, MSF will also end its remaining activities in Misrata at the beginning of April to refocus on other areas of intervention.

Concerns for migrants, refugees and internally displaced people

There are concerns that camps in Tripoli are being shut down by authorities without any clear strategy that the people will be cared for appropriately afterwards, leaving former residents in an even more vulnerable situation. Already on the 14th of February, a camp where hundreds of primarily sub-Saharan African migrants had taken refuge was closed and evacuated. On the 20th of March, another camp housing approximately 300 Somali refugees was evacuated, with residents now being spread out over Tripoli. As MSF had been running mobile clinics in these two camps, it is now trying to trace patients to be able to ensure the provision of follow-up care if needed.

Currently, MSF is running mobile clinics in two camps for internally displaced people in the city, providing basic healthcare and psychological support. When necessary, MSF also assists in referring residents to secondary health structures. The camps, containing a total of approximately 4000 people, are primarily made up of people from the Tawargha city. Members of this community were forcibly displaced at the end of the conflict, and are unable to return home. Each week, MSF performs a total average of 50 consultations in these two camps.

In addition, MSF has in March donated two water bladders and a distribution ramp to a detention centre in Gharyan, south of Tripoli, where primarily sub-Saharan migrants from West Africa are being held. It has also donated truckloads of medical supplies to two medical centres in and around Bani Walid – a city cut off from external support due to having been a Ghadaffi stronghold.

Activities in Misrata to end after one year

MSF arrived in Misrata in April last year, when the city was besieged and at the peak of fighting, providing support to health structures overwhelmed with wounded patients.

In January, MSF suspended all its activities in detention centres in Misrata after having been increasingly confronted with patients who suffered torture injuries during interrogations, despite demands for an immediate end to any ill treatment. Since then, MSF has continued to engage in discussions, lobbying and advocacy at Misrata level concerning this matter. Since July, MSF has been running mental health activities in Misrata through the provision of psycho-educational sessions to over 3000 beneficiaries in the community, including at schools, community centres, factories, koran centres and the university. However, MSF will be ending these remaining activities in April, and is currently assessing needs and looking at additional ways of providing medical expertise and supplies to populations in need in Libya.

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