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Country Reports

Libya Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Located on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Libya (population 6.5 million) continues to be wracked by political divisions and its security situation is correspondingly unstable. This has led most Western governments to advise against all nonessential travel to the country. Those wishing to travel to Libya are advised to contract the services of in-country security specialists.

POLITICS

The country remains fragmented along social, tribal, political, and ideological lines with various factions in open hostilities with each other. Real power remains with the plethora of armed groups which hold sway across the country.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) strengthened its position domestically when militias aligned with the rival General National Congress (GNC) were forced out of Tripoli in 2017. The GNA has since managed to extend its influence over some of the northwestern coastline but continues to be challenged by opposing groups including militias aligned with the General National Congress (GNC).

In the east, the internationally-recognized legislature, the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk, holds political power through its cooperation with and support for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Haftar's prominence has risen significantly after he captured the oil terminals in the Sirte crescent in September 2016 and facilitated the resumption of exports under the auspices of the National Oil Company (NOC), chaired by Mustafa Sanallah. Despite short-lived attempts from opposition groups to take back control of the oil infrastructure, the LNA remains in control. Haftar continued his expansion through 2017 although, towards the end of the year, his vulnerabilities and weaknesses were becoming more apparent.

TERRORISM

The security situation across the country remains precarious at best, though the level and nature of threats vary throughout. By early 2016, Islamic State (IS) had been successful in taking swaths of territory through the oil crescent and was focusing on state-building; however, by December 2016, the group had lost this territory. The group spent much of 2017 rebuilding its capability and benefited from additional manpower as IS crumbled in Iraq and Syria. The group has begun to increase its operational tempo and is expected to mount further attacks in various cities and towns including Tripoli while seeking to retake territory, possibility in or around Sirte province.

IS-aligned and other Salafist jihadist groups also have a presence in eastern Libya in the cities of Benghazi and Derna, although the LNA has so far been able to contain and roll back their presence.

In the country's southern Fezzan region, groups either aligned with or belonging to Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) maintain a significant footprint in numerous communities. They also have close connections with some long-existent smuggling networks that allow them to operate across the country's borders with Niger and Chad. While they have not launched significant attacks in the country's north, they are regularly involved in southern clashes and have been linked to two kidnappings involving foreigners since September 2016. IS is also active in the south where they have training and medical facilities.

KIDNAPPING

Kidnappings and assassinations are frequent in Libya, and while the majority of these incidents are related to inter-militia violence and crime, the risk to foreigners is still very high. For example, in November 2017, two Turkish nationals and a South African were kidnapped in Obari by a transnational terrorist organization. While the overall rate of incidents involving the kidnapping of Western expatriates has dropped slightly, such decrease is primarily attributed to their reduced presence in the country rather than any meaningful change in the capabilities and intentions of the various criminal and terrorist actors in the country.

TRANSPORTATION

Access to the country is very difficult given the heavy damage to its principal airports (e.g. Tripoli International Airport [TIP], which is currently undergoing reconstruction) during the past seven years of fighting. Many international airlines no longer operate flights to smaller airports in the country that are still active and Libyan airlines are banned from European Union airspace due to security concerns, limiting the routes into and out of Libya. Improvements are being made with domestic and international flights now operating from Benina International Airport (BEN) in Benghazi.

The primary point of access to Tripoli is via flights from Tunisia to the limited-capacity Mitiga Airport (MJI). However, fighting in the area has resulted in intermittent closures of the facility in recent months. The main roads linking coastal urban centers are frequently the site of clashes between militias jockeying for strategic positioning. Road checkpoints are common throughout the country. Links with the south remain tenuous at best given poor road connections. Travelers are advised that any essential travel between the north and south should take place only by air.

HEALTH

Travelers are advised to take out an insurance policy covering medical fees as well as medical evacuation and repatriation prior to departure. Libyan healthcare infrastructure - long deficient - has been further damaged by the fighting of the past seven years. The provision of health services in the country is extremely poor; regular power cuts and intermittent interruptions to water supply, coupled with the constant ebb and flow of violence across the country, have made local healthcare services unreliable. Moreover, in the country's southern regions, healthcare services can be non-existent. Large swaths of the country are in need of humanitarian aid, some urgently.

These adverse conditions allow for the spread of various diseases, including leishmaniasis. There are two forms of the disease: the cutaneous form, which causes skin sores, and the visceral form, which affects internal organs. This disease is transmitted by infected sand flies.

Tap water is not safe to drink and diarrheal diseases are frequent.

There are cases of animal rabies in the country. The main line of defense against rabies is to avoid contact with both domestic and wild mammals. If you are scratched or bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Due to the risk of amoebic diseases, travelers are advised not to bathe in bodies of fresh water (e.g. lakes, rivers) and not to walk barefoot.

Tuberculosis is common in the country.

Cases of Hepatitis C and HIV-AIDS are frequently reported in Libya, most often due to the precarious health conditions of illegal migrants traveling through Libyan territory. It is highly advised to take all necessary precautions to avoid contraction of such diseases.

Although there is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Libya, travelers that enter the country from an area where yellow fever is endemic and are of more than one year of age are required to present a certificate of immunization for yellow fever. A meningococcal meningitis vaccination is also required and polio vaccination is necessary for travelers arriving from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Climate

The climate in Libya varies significantly from north to south. Coastal regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate: hot (30°C) and dry summers and cool, rainy winters with temperatures falling as low as 8°C. Heading south slightly to the plains, the climate becomes semi-arid. Heading further south you reach the desert and its arid conditions. From late spring until early autumn a hot, dry, and dusty southerly wind sometimes blows north across the country all the way to the coastal cities.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +218 Police-Emergency: 33 35 613 or 614

Electricity

Voltage: 127 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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