Dhar el-Jebel detention center evacuation postponed
Libya remains fragmented by a decade of conflict and political instability. The breakdown of law and order, the collapse of the economy, and fighting have decimated the healthcare system.

Almost all people who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea pass through Libya. Between January and mid-August 2021, the EU-funded Libyan Coastguard intercepted over 22,000 people at sea and returned them to Libya. This has resulted in an increase in the number of people arbitrarily detained in detention centres, often in violent, inhumane conditions. 

MSF provides medical care and food and hygiene kits to people held in detention centres in the country’s northwest.

Migrants and refugees living outside detention centres are exposed to life-threatening risks, such as being held captive by trafficking networks in clandestine jails. Our teams provide healthcare to migrant communities outside of detention – including those who have escaped – in Tripoli and Bani Walid.

MSF also supports the Ministry of Health in its tuberculosis response; we provide technical support in Misrata and Tripoli, and provide diagnosis and treatment to patients in two facilities. We provide ante- and postnatal care to mostly Libyan women in Bani Walid.

Q&A with Libya HoM, Beatrice Lau _ENG

Libya Head of Mission, Beatrice Lau

Dire conditions for migrants and refugees in detention centres in Libya

Our returned Head of Mission Beatrice Lau describes the conditions for migrants and refugees in detention centers in Libya. MSF suspended activities in the detention centres in Tripoli in late June 2021, as a response to the level and rate of violence observed towards migrants and refugees held indefinitely in Libya’s detention centres. Despite this latest decision, efforts to intercept, forcibly return and arbitrarily detain men, women and children in detention centres in Libya are ongoing.

Our activities in 2021 in Libya

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021.

MSF in Libya in 2021 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to assist refugees, asylum seekers and migrants trapped in a cycle of abuse and arbitrary incarceration in Libya. Many who tried to flee were forced back.

In western Libya, our teams provided medical and mental healthcare to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres, identifying vulnerable people and referring patients requiring specialist care to hospitals in Tripoli. Since February 2021, there have been continual reports of incidents of ill-treatment and violence in the centres, resulting in severe physical and psychological harm. Some were witnessed first-hand by our staff. On 8 April, one person was killed and two were injured in a shooting in Al-Mabani detention centre. As a consequence of these incidents, we suspended activities in Al-Mabani and Abu Salim detention centres, between June and September.  

More than 621,000 migrantsi are living in communities across the country and are frequently subjected to violence and arbitrary mass arrests. In October, at least 5,000 people were violently rounded up across Tripoli by government security forces and detained in centres that were already overcrowded. For several months during 2021, MSF teams ran community-based mobile clinics in Tripoli, providing basic healthcare and referrals for vulnerable migrants.   

In 2021, the Libyan coastguard intercepted at least 32,425 migrantsii in the Central Mediterranean Sea and returned them to detention centres in Libya. At disembarkation points, our teams offered first aid and basic medical care, as well as emergency referrals and follow-up care for patients in critical condition. 

Elsewhere in the country, MSF teams provided medical and social services for refugees and migrants in Zuwara, and general healthcare and referrals for victims of torture and trafficking in Bani Walid. We also ran a tuberculosis (TB) programme in Misrata and assisted the national TB programme with technical support, diagnosis, treatment and adherence counselling, including a TB unit until it was stopped and taken back by the Ministry of Health COVID-19 taskforce response. 


in 2021
Out of Libya: Gharyan al-Hamra detention centre (related to John's testimony)

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

Press Release 20 Jun 2022
Out of Libya: migrants and refugees in Zintan and Gharyan detention centres in Libya

Out of Libya: Opening safe pathways for migrants stuck in Libya

Report 20 Jun 2022
"We sit, we wait and we're scared": migrants' communities in Libya through the eyes of photographer Ricardo García Villanova
Refugees, IDPs and people on the move

Italy-Libya agreement: Five years of EU-sponsored abuse in Libya and the central Mediterranean

Project Update 2 Feb 2022
Libya: Crisis Within a Crisis - Muawia Testimony

Thousands beaten up, detained following days of mass arrests in Tripoli

Press Release 6 Oct 2021
Detention Centres - Tripoli, Libya

Medical care resumes in Tripoli detention centres

Project Update 29 Sep 2021
Detention Centres - Tripoli, Libya

Ongoing violence against detained migrants forces MSF to suspend Tripoli detention centre activities

Press Release 22 Jun 2021
Rotation 1 Rescue 6
Mediterranean migration

Witnessing harrowing crossings onboard the Geo Barents

Voices from the Field 18 Jun 2021
Detention Centres - Tripoli, Libya

Libya: One dead and two injured in shooting in Tripoli detention centre

Press Release 9 Apr 2021
Sea Watch 4 - Open Arms
Mediterranean migration

Carnage in the Mediterranean is the direct result of European state policies

Press Release 13 Nov 2020