Political situation Ongoing power struggle prevents rapid development

The security situation in Libya remains unstable. The country is divided at both the political and societal level. Since March 2022, two governments are once again vying for political power and most state institutions are paralysed nationwide. The internationally recognised government in Tripoli, which controls parts of western Libya, faces a rival government that rules large sections in the east and south. Both sides are receiving foreign support.

Harbour promenade in Tripoli

Harbour promenade in Tripoli

Harbour promenade in Tripoli

Experts fear that the rivalry could impact negatively on the country’s economic recovery from civil war and the COVID-19 pandemic. In early 2022, there were brief clashes between both sides in the capital, Tripoli. A few months later, protests against the political standoff and the low standard of living broke out in Tripoli and at the parliament building in Tobruk. The many challenges people face include frequent interruptions to the electricity and water supply and mounting food costs.

The OECD regards the situation in Libya as fragile at many levels – political, economic, societal, environmental, and as regards security.

Human rights

According to the non-governmental organisation Freedom House, the human rights situation has deteriorated in recent years. In its 2022 Freedom in the World (External link) report, Libya is ranked as “not free”. The country scored just nine out of a possible one hundred points in the political rights and civil liberties assessment.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) reports illegal detentions and has also documented “disappearances” of (alleged) political opponents, with the whereabouts of thousands of women, men and children remaining unknown.

Displacement and migration

Libya is the most important transit country for displaced persons and migrants wishing to cross from North Africa to Italy or Malta across the Mediterranean. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 43,000 refugees and asylum seekers – most of whom hail from the Sudan and Syria – are registered in Libya (as at October 2022).

According to estimates, more than 3,500 people were being held in Libyan detention camps in late 2022, having been picked up by the Libyan Coast Guard. There are repeated reports of serious human rights violations in these camps. Since 2017, UNHCR has evacuated more than 5,500 refugees from Libya.

Many people have been forced to flee from hostilities in central Libya to other regions throughout the country. Although many have returned to their place of origin over the past two years, there are still more than 140,000 displaced persons throughout Libya.

As at: 23/01/2023