Humanitarian access in Libya
In 2020 Humanitarian organizations operating in Libya faced different layers of access challenges and constraints. The security context saw significant changes in 2020 that affected the operational environment and humanitarian organizations’ access to people in need of assistance. While the suspension of fighting in June that translated into a ceasefire in October, enabled greater access, continued insecurity in some places, explosive hazard contamination and the imposition of curfews, travel disruptions and movement restrictions due to COVID-19 restrictions hampered humanitarian operations.
In March, the Humanitarian Access Incidents Reporting Mechanism was established, enabling humanitarian partners to report access constraints/incidents as they occurred. The tool supports a more systematic approach to monitoring and analyzing access constraints across the country and provides an evidence base for advocacy and addressing constraints by engaging with the relevant stakeholders. Also, in an effort to reinforce a collective approach, the Humanitarian Country Team in Libya endorsed the Humanitarian Access Strategy in August. In line with the strategy, the Humanitarian Access Working Group was re-established to serve as an advisory body to the HCT, providing recommendations and informing decision-making.
Throughout the year, bureaucratic constraints made up the majority (83 per cent) of all access constraints reported by partners. Of these, most (58 per cent) related to restrictions in the movement of humanitarian personnel and supplies into Libya. The most commonly reported constraints included significant delays in the issuance of visas for INGO international staff, difficulties in importing relief items through seaports and airports, as well as a three-month-long suspension of UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights. Bureaucratic movement restrictions within Libya, made up 25 per cent of monthly reported constraints, mostly due to COVID-19 pandemic-related precautionary measures, as well as stringent security measures imposed by the authorities in some parts of the country. The western region reported the highest number of constraints (43 per cent), on average, compared to the eastern and southern regions (37 per cent and 20 per cent respectively). This is in part a reflection of a higher operational presence of humanitarian partners and number of activities in the west, compared to the other two regions.
Access constraints recorded in December followed the declining trend in terms of the overall number reported. Humanitarian partners reported a total of 340 access constraints, with bureaucratic restrictions making up 53 per cent. Similar to previous months, constraints related to obtaining visas for INGO staff and challenges with the importation of supplies, particularly for the health sector, into Libya remained significant impediments for humanitarian operations. This highlights the need for long-term and sustainable solutions to address these persistent constraints. Similar to previous months, the second most reported type of constraint (25 per cent) related to bureaucratic restrictions on movements of humanitarian resources within the country. Other constraints related to interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities, attacks on civilian infrastructure (four reported attacks in health facilities), the presence of explosive hazards or armed groups and difficulties pertaining to the physical environment in remote areas were also reported in December.