Header image for news printout

Libya: UN expert calls for roadmap to tackle plight of thousands who have fled homes

GENEVA/TUNIS (2 February 2018) – Libya must intensify its efforts to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced from their homes, a United Nations expert has concluded after an official visit to the country.

Lasting solutions must be found for all those affected, including a new government plan and better coordination on the ground, said Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), in a statement at the end of her week-long mission.

“I strongly recommend that the Government develops a comprehensive roadmap in line with the [UN] Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which would clearly define and clarify roles and responsibilities across Ministries and other dedicated bodies, and ensure accountability,” she said, also stressing the need for improved coordination between humanitarian and development groups.

The Special Rapporteur said many Libyans were facing prolonged periods away from their homes, while others who managed to return were facing conditions of “grave concern”.

“For too many people, displacement is becoming more protracted every day, as insecurity and fear of persecution are making it impossible for them to return to their homes,” she said.

“The displacement crisis in Libya is one of huge complexities, exacerbated by the fact that the capacity of the Government to meet the needs of the IDPs is limited, and UN agencies are constrained by a lack of access due to security concerns and a general lack of funding to deal with the internal displacement situation in Libya,” she added.

The international community should give greater attention to the issue and address the specific vulnerabilities which displaced people face, she added.

The Special Rapporteur praised the Government for demonstrating the political will to address the situation through the establishment of a Ministry of State for Displaced Affairs.

“However, while this is a positive step, the protection of and assistance to IDPs remains largely unimplemented in practice,” she added, stressing that efforts to help people were hampered by a lack of resources and coordination.

Having visited Tripoli and Misrata and met authorities and affected people there, Jimenez-Damary expressed her disappointment at not having been able to visit Benghazi.

“I am also deeply worried by the fact that the situation of many IDPs in the south of Libya, where access is entirely restricted, is largely unknown and disturbingly neglected by the Government,” she added. 

Jimenez-Damary, who visited Libya from 25 to 31 January, will present her full findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June.


Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (Philippines) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2016. A human rights lawyer specializing in forced displacement and migration, she has more than two decades of experience in NGO human rights advocacy.

As a Special Rapporteur, she is part of the Special Procedures of Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Libya 

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Tunis (during the mission): Jean El Alam (+216 97 408 051 /
In Geneva (before and after the mission): Katrine Gertz Schlundt (+41 22 917 9599 /

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence – (+ 41 22 917 9383 /

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.