MSF and Mediterranee teams on board the Ocean Viking rescuing people from a overcrowded wooden boat
In 2020, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants trapped in war-torn Libya were left even more vulnerable as armed conflict escalated and COVID-19 spread across the country.

Although some detention centres closed in 2020, thousands of men, women, and children remained held in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions with little access to healthcare, insufficient food and drinking water, and no possibility of physical distancing.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continued to provide medical and mental healthcare in detention centres in Tripoli, Khoms, Zliten, Zuwara, and Zintan. Our teams also worked to improve access to water and other basic services, reinforce COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures and refer the most vulnerable cases to protection agencies.


In February, a 26-year-old Eritrean man lost his life when a fire broke out in the overcrowded Dhar El-Jebel detention centre in Zintan. We offered psychological support to survivors of the fire and distributed basic necessities to replace items they had lost while reiterating our call for the end of arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees in Libya.

The vast majority of the estimated 650,000 migrants currently in Libya live on the streets, exposed to arbitrary arrest and detention, human trafficking, exploitation, and severe violence. Most of those detained are in clandestine prisons and warehouses run by people smugglers rather than official centres.

In Bani Walid, our teams offered general healthcare and medical referrals to refugees and migrants who had escaped from captivity, and to victims of torture and trafficking. Throughout 2020, refugees and migrants were subjected to numerous violent attacks; for example, at disembarkation points where the Libyan coastguard forcibly returns those who try to flee.

On 28 July, our teams responded with medical and psychological care after a shooting at a disembarkation site in Khoms that left three teenagers dead. Tuberculosis (TB) care is another focus of our activities in Libya. Our teams work in three TB facilities: two in Tripoli and one in Misrata, a 17-bed clinic that we opened in March.

No. staff in 2020: 153 (FTE) » Expenditure in 2020: €6.8 million MSF first worked in the country: 2011

Geo Barents - rotation 8
Mediterranean Migration

A normalisation of violence against refugees and migrants has taken root

Project Update 21 Feb 2024
 Tripoli: Detained refugees trapped as fighting worsens’
Refugee, migration and displacement

Libya: “You’re going to die here” – Abuse in Abu Salim and Ain Zara detention centres

Article 11 Dec 2023
In Derna, MSF doctors and psychologists bring support to the mourning city
Access to Healthcare

In Derna, MSF doctors and psychologists bring support to the mourning city

Interview 27 Sep 2023
Libya: MSF ready to start medical response in Derna
Climate Emergency

Libya: MSF ready to start medical response in Derna

Article 20 Sep 2023
Refugees, Migration and displacement

Libya: MSF calls for evacuation of most vulnerable migrants to safe countries

Press Release 21 Jun 2022
Refugees, Migration and displacement

Unaccompanied minors: From the streets of Cameroon to a tent in Paris

Stories from the Frontline 22 Feb 2022