Number of people uprooted by fighting keeps rising in Libya

July 1, 2015 9:22 am 

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 — The UN Refugee Agency ( UNHCR) and its partners reported that the number of displaced people within Libya has grown from an estimated 230,000 last September to more than 434,000 now due to escalating fighting this year in different parts of the North African country, a UN spokesman told reporters here Tuesday.

"The agency has warned that the numbers could be higher since it has limited access in the country and is currently running its operation by remote management," said Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, at a daily news briefing here.

About a quarter of the displaced population, or an estimated 105,000 people, are in the eastern city of Benghazi, where UNHCR has been working with the municipality as well as local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to distribute aid, including mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets, Haq said. "It is also working with partners to reach people in Misrata, Tripoli, Zintan and other areas, despite mounting challenges."

The main areas of concern in Benghazi relate to the collapse of the health sector, the closure of more than 60 schools as well as universities, criminality stemming from the absence of rule of law, and frequent reports of civilian casualties as a result of fighting in the coastal city, UNHCR said.

Landmines are also a danger to the internally displaced. The conflict has also undermined the security of civilians and prevented the safe return of internally displaced people in Misrata, Tripoli, Warshafana and the Nafusa Mountains in the west, and Awbari in the south, said the UN agency.

These internally displaced people and host communities in these areas have also been equally affected by diminishing access to education, affordable health care, electricity and other key services, it added.

Libya, a major oil producer in North Africa, has been witnessing a frayed political process after former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled during the 2011 political turmoil. The country is now deadlocked in a dogfight between the pro-secular army and Islamist militants, which has led to a security vacuum for homegrown extremism to brew.

The United Nations has brokered several rounds of dialogues between the conflicting parties since last September, but clashes remained despite a truce agreed on by factions. (PNA/Xinhua)

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