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Despite the instability and ongoing conflict, Libya remains a destination for migrant workers from across the African continent and a transit country for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.

A UN-backed interim government was installed in 2015, but Libya remains fragmented by conflict.

Fighting continues in several parts of the country, and the breakdown of law and order, economic collapse, and the existence of three successive governments has had a severe impact on the healthcare system.

Médecins Sans Frontières first began working in Libya in 2011.


Almost all the men, women and children who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea pass through Libya. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Libya are exposed to extreme, wide-spread violence, and face exploitation in arbitrary detention. Teams aboard our search and rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea have heard accounts of alarming levels of exploitation people experienced in Libya at the hands of security forces, militias, smuggling networks, and criminal gangs.

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Cramped Detention Centres

MSF continues to provide medical care to refugees and migrants detained in Libya. We run mobile clinics in migrant detention centres located in and around the capital, Tripoli.Libya’s detention centres are nominally under the control of the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), and do not meet any national, regional or international health or humanitarian standards.  Medical complaints are mostly related to appalling conditions inside extremely overcrowded detention centres: lice, scabies and flees are rife and significant numbers of detainees suffer from nutritional deficiencies and the lack of safe drinking water. Our teams treat a wide range of common and preventable diseases, including skin disease, acute malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease, as well as respiratory and urinary tract infections.


MSF runs psychosocial activities in detention centres and carries out individual counselling sessions. A large number of refugees suffer from suicidal thoughts, difficulty sleeping, post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), panic attacks, depression and anxiety. The majority of migrants and refugees in Libya live outside detention centres and, like the local communities, are affected by the deterioration in public health infrastructure, which includes drug and staff shortages. In Misrata, MSF opened an outpatient clinic offering free, primary healthcare and referrals to patients of all ages and nationalities.


People trafficking and torture

MSF operates in specific areas, in order to address the needs of vulnerable groups and provide specialised care. In collaboration with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), MSF provides paediatric and gynaecology consultations, mental health support to children affected by trauma and violence, and specialised assistance for survivors of trafficking, extortion and torture


Condemned to drown at sea or be locked up in Libya

Find out more about Libya

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