Libya, humanitarian emergency!

Edited by Vincenzo Pira and Marco Pasquini

In this Notebook we present an analysis on the situation in Libya and on the prospects concerning humanitarian aid, migration flows and respect for human rights in a country at war and in a region (Mediterranean and Middle East) where instability prevails.

Armadilla is implementing, in partnership with Emergenza Sorrisi, a project of Italian cooperation that guarantees medical health services in the immigration center of El Nasser near Tripoli.

Libya is a country at war; a territory in which thousands of refugees coming from sub-Saharan Africa, Eritrea and Ethiopia pass, considered by the irregular Libyan laws and often held in inhuman conditions or treated as slaves by unscrupulous traffickers. Taking a position in the general debate concerning relations between Italy, the European Union, international powers and Libya is not simple and deserves a thorough analysis and evaluation, bearing in mind the complexity of the situation and trying to adequately combine the obligation to guarantee humanitarian aid to people in conditions of extreme vulnerability and the political and diplomatic choices that the international community have made and can do to guarantee the right and the rights of the various parties involved.

The fall of the Gaddafi regime has not brought Libya to a better situation of democracy and peace. Instead, it has unfortunately created a chaotic situation that has opened the door to destabilization and to a conflict between the various tribal militias that want to control and divide up the rich proceeds derived from the extraction of oil. The attempts for a transition to a democratic structure have not given positive results so far.

Two rival governments seeking international legitimacy compete for the government of the country: the first, based in Tripoli, is led by Fayez al-Serraj and has had the support of the UN, Italy, Turkey, Qatar and Sudan. The second is based in Tobruk, in the west of the country, and is supported by Russia, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Its leader is Khalifa Haftar, a general friend and collaborator of Gaddafi with whom he subsequently entered a strong conflict.

In this situation the problem arises of how to manage the humanitarian crisis provoked by the war and by continuous migratory flows that pass through Libya to Europe.

Over 823,000 people are considered in need of immediate humanitarian assistance (including 248,000 children). Of these 187,000 are Libyan displaced people due to the war; 404,000 are Libyans who have returned to the country from abroad; 57.546 between refugees and asylum seekers registered by the United Nations.

How did this situation come about? What are the interests that led to this internal conflict in Libya and what are the international actors that support it?

What is Italy’s position and what is being done at the diplomatic and aid guarantee level to resolve or alleviate the humanitarian crisis?

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