Libya faces a bleak humanitarian crisis, the result of the country’s descent into civil war in the summer of 2014 following the 2011 revolution.
Hundreds of thousands of Libyan citizens are uprooted within the country and many more are sheltering in neighboring states, particularly Tunisia. Drawing on in-depth interviews with policymakers, practitioners, and displaced Libyans both inside and outside the country, Megan Bradley, Ibrahim Fraihat, and Houda Mzioudet present a brief, yet thoroughly illuminating assessment of the political, socioeconomic, security, humanitarian, and human rights implications of the continued displacement of Libyan citizens within and outside their country.
Assessing the complex dimensions and consequences of the situation, Libya’s Displacement Crisis lays the groundwork for what comes next. Acknowledging that the resolution of this crisis hinges on a negotiated end to the Libyan civil war, the authors present ideas to improve assistance strategies and to support durable solutions for displaced Libyans with implications for refugee crises in other parts of the world, including Syria and Iraq.
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Megan Bradley is assistant professor of political science and development studies at McGill University, a nonresident fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.
Ibrahim Fraihat is a senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, adjunct professor in international conflict resolution at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
Houda Mzioudet is a freelance journalist, commentator, and researcher on Libyan and Tunisian affairs and the coauthor of the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center analysis paper (with Roman David) titled “Personnel Change or Personal Change? Rethinking Libya’s Political Isolation Law.”
1. Background: A Fallen Regime, Victor’s Justice, and Resurgent Violence
The Fall of the Gaddafi Regime
The Rise of Victor’s Justice
The Initial Displacement Crisis
Civil War and the Reescalation of the Displacement Crisis
2. A Growing Crisis: Internal Displacement in Post-Gaddafi Libya
A “Constant Nightmare”: Daily Life and Protection Challenges for Libyan IDPs
Lackluster Responses and Barriers to Solutions
3. Precarious Refuge: Displaced Libyans in North Africa
Into the Shadows: Libyans’ Search for Invisibility in Neighboring Countries
Insecure Status, Lack of Documentation, and Fear of Return
Declining Living Conditions
Dismantling an “Army of Opposition,” Advancing Durable Solutions
4. Durable Solutions: Obstacles and Prospects
The Lynchpin: Security and Rule of Law
Participation in Dialogues and Negotiations
Transitional Justice, Reconciliation, and the Resolution of Displacement
Conclusions and Recommendations