The military clashes in and around Tripoli have exacerbated the humanitarian conditions in which displaced people are living.
Three months have passed since Khalifa Haftar, the military strongman who heads the Libyan National Army (LNA), launched his offensive on the Libyan capital Tripoli, where the Government of National Accord (GNA) is based. The ensuing military clashes have led to widespread civilian casualties, forced displacement, and heavy damage to civilian infrastructure.
The humanitarian consequences have been disastrous. More than 1,000 people have been killed and 5,000 injured in Tripoli since the start of Haftar’s offensive , according to the latest statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that approximately 120,000 people have been displaced. Thousands of Tripoli residents escaped the city in anticipation for the military conflict, while many others have left as their neighbourhoods were turned into battlefields.
Children form a large proportion of the displaced and the psychological impact on them will have social consequences long into the future. UNICEF’s Special Representative for Libya, Abdulrahman Ghandour, warned that about half a million children in Tripoli, as well as dozens of children in the western areas, were at immediate risk as a result of the aggression on Tripoli.
The greatest single horror story up until now involved the large refugee community that resides in Tripoli. Thousands of refugees from nearby countries who escaped from other contexts of political instability had been settled in a detention centre in Tajoura, in the east of Tripoli. An airstrike hit the detention centre in early July, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries. Many of those refugees then went on a hunger strike in protest of the decision made by international aid agencies to settle them in a war-zone. Thousands of refugees have even decided to return home in accordance with the voluntary repatriation program launched by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Despite attempts by international organisations and foreign governments to bringing the conflicting sides in Libya to the negotiating table, the military conflict in and around Tripoli has hardly subdued, leaving the humanitarian crisis very much alive.