OCHA Libya | Tripoli Clashes Situation Report No.25 (24 May 2019)
OCHA Libya | Tripoli Clashes Situation Report No.25 (24 May 2019)
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as a direct result of the armed conflict in and around Tripoli.
135 civilian casualties, including 31 fatalities, have now been confirmed since the beginning of clashes.
Health personnel and facilities continue to be impacted by the armed conflict, in violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Two health workers were killed and three others injured on 23 May when two clearly-marked armoured ambulance vehicles were struck in the Triq Al Matar area of Tripoli. One ambulance was struck, immediately killing a doctor on board. A second ambulance, dispatched to recover casualties from the first attach, was subsequently also struck by shelling, killing one paramedic and injuring two others and a doctor on board. To date, 6 health workers have been killed, 7 health workers have been injured, 14 ambulances have been impacted and 2 health facilities have been impacted/evacuated as a result of armed conflict. These incidents further hamper the ability of already overstretched health services to provide vital assistance to civilians, including those injured as a result of armed conflict. IHL obligates all parties to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects, including medical personnel and assets. Deliberate attacks on clearly marked medical transports constitute war crimes under IHL.During the overnight hours of 21-22 May, indiscriminate shelling was reported in a residential area in Salahuddin district. On the morning of 22 May, indiscriminate shelling was reported in a residential area of Tajoura. No civilian casualties were reported as a result of these incidents. After peaking in mid/late-April, the instances of random shelling of residential areas (with no ostensible military target nearby) had in recent weeks abated. This has coincided with the increase in precision airstrikes carried out by UAV. Humanitarians continue to remind parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all feasible measures to avoid civilian harm, and call on all parties to refrain from using explosive weapons – including by aerial bombardment or shelling – in populated areas, given their likely indiscriminate effect.
According to latest DTM-IOM figures, at least 82,300 individuals have fled their homes since the start of the conflict. Of these, approximately half are believed to be children. The rate of displacement has decreased somewhat since the start of the conflict, yet armed conflict continues to drive more and more families from their homes. 47 collective shelters are now in operation, estimated to house some 800 IDP families (approximately 4,000 individuals), with the majority of IDPs staying in urban areas with family/friends or in rented accommodation, mainly in urban areas of Tripoli. Many other IDPs have moved to areas along the coastal line of Western Libya and the Nafusa mountains. IDP destinations, including collective shelters, are themselves often close to armed clashes, thus risking secondary displacement and meaning that many IDPs and their host communities remain at risk.
Humanitarian actors estimate that over 100,000 men, women and children remain in immediate frontline areas, with over 400,000 more in areas directly impacted by clashes (within a one kilometre radius of the front). Concerns are high for civilians unable to leave these
areas, as conditions deteriorate and emergency services are unable to get through. Water and electricity cuts are being reported from frontline areas, while market access and availability of food is very limited. Refugees and migrants in urban areas are especially at-risk, as they face discrimination in accessing collective shelters and other services. 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.
Humanitarian actors are extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of nearly 3,400 refugees and migrants trapped in ten detentions centres (DCs) exposed to, or in close proximity to, the fighting. All individuals inside these centres are at imminent risk, as they have no means of seeking safety on their own. In addition to the risk posed by armed clashes, access to food, water and healthcare is severely restricted at these facilities as a result of the conflict. Humanitarian actors continue to call for detained refugees and migrants to be released and provided with safe shelter until their asylum claims can be processed or they can be provided with safe repatriation assistance for reunification with their families.
On 20 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator issued a statement condemning the deliberate cut off of water supply to Tripoli and other north-western cities, potentially impacting upwards of 2 million people, by an armed group who stormed a water control station of the Man-Made River Project (MMRP) in Jabal al-Hasawna the previous day. On 21 May, the water supply to Tripoli was restored. This was the latest in a series of similar incidents in recent years whereby the same armed group has used the threat of cutting off water supply to Tripoli unless authorities meet its demands, which reportedly revolve around the release of an arrested family member of the group’s leader. While not directly related to the present conflict, such incidents demonstrate the vulnerability of the water supply upon which millions of Libyans rely. The MMRP supplies more than 60% of water to the Libyan people. Even before this incident, WASH partners had reported that the water distribution by the MMRP to Tripoli has reduced by 37% and to Libya as a whole by 25% since the start of the conflict. This is due to the fact that regular planned maintenance has not taken place due to the conflict. Electricity cuts due to damaged infrastructure have also resulted in irregular supply of water in various locations in and around Tripoli.
Humanitarian actors are also concerned that responsible local authorities are not able to access primary landfill sites in conflict affected areas, leading to a build-up of solid waste in Tripoli. With the summer season approaching this will lead to foul smells and a favourable environment for vector breeding.
A DTM-IOM rapid assessment of market access in conflict affected areas in and around Tripoli found that food security varies significantly according to proximity to clashes, with the area of Kahllet Al Furjan and Swami Bin Adam municipality being the worst affected locations. Overall, 26 per cent of markets in assessed areas were reported to be closed, while insecurity directly prevented residents from accessing markets in Al Aziziya, Salaheddin, Qasr Bin Ghasheer and Suq Al Khamis. Another recent assessment, conducted by WFP, noted that the prices of fresh vegetables has increased by 20 per cent in Tripoli markets since the start of the conflict, due in part to the fact that agricultural areas to the south of Tripoli have been cut off behind frontlines, while prices for other items such as milk and cooking oil have also increased. Prices of key staples such as bread, rice and couscous have remained stable. Both DTM-IOM and WFP assessments note that increases in food prices may be in some part due to increased demand during the month of Ramadan.
The Tripoli port was temporarily closed on 19 May, re-opening the following day. Reportedly, the port was closed due to the arrival of ‘special cargo’. During the reporting period, the LNA also announced a ‘total maritime ban’ on ports in the western region although the LNA is not thought to have capacity to enforce such a ban. Disruption of port operations could severely hamper humanitarian response. Humanitarian partners continue to express concern over lengthy delays and inconsistencies in the import and customs clearance of humanitarian cargo entering Libya and call for the fast-tracking of aid shipments to ensure timely delivery to affected populations.
The impact of clashes is being felt outside of Tripoli, as more IDPs arrive in other areas and disruptions in humanitarian access and in transportation of essential goods such as food and fuel exacerbate already existing scarcities. Trucks carrying humanitarian assistance targeting populations in areas under LNA control, particularly in the east, continue to be denied permission by GNA-affiliated authorities to move from Tripoli. Lack of cash liquidity is also exacerbating the need of affected populations, especially in the south. The LNA-imposed no-fly zone in the south has interrupted distribution of cash to banks in the south outside of Sebha, impacting the ability of populations already facing scarcities to obtain food and other basic goods.
Areas south of Ayn Zara, Khala, Azizya, Wadi Rabiya’a and Qasr Bin Ghashir remain largely inaccessible to humanitarian actors due to fighting and random shelling. OCHA is supporting humanitarian access through establishment of a new reporting mechanism, whereby humanitarian actors will be able to report access constraints as they transpire to OCHA who will then engage with relevant parties to alleviate, or mitigate the impact of, reported constraints.
Humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance, where access allows. Over 45,600 people have received assistance since the start of the conflict. However insufficient access and funding are impeding response operations.