Country Background

Libya 1

The Libyan Civil War was an armed conflict fought between forces loyal to Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and those seeking to oust him. Libya is in its ninth year of instability and conflict following the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. In 2019 escalations in conflict, in both the south and in the country’s capital Tripoli, saw fighting move into more populated urban areas. Attempts to establish a unified government have been largely unsuccessful and many Libyan citizens have been forced to flee to neighboring countries. 

What Nonprofits Need to Know

Below in the blue is an overview of the humanitarian and peacebuilding needs in Libya. In the red are the primary sanctioned groups presently operating there. Because U.S. law prohibits the provision of “material support” to listed terrorists individuals and groups as well as engaging in trade with sanctioned persons and entities, the presence of these groups and sanctions programs can impact the delivery of aid and peacebuilding programs. The list below is non-exhaustive and changes frequently, so it is important for nonprofits to check all partners and those with whom they engage in transactions against, at a minimum, the U.S. Specially Designated National (SDN) and the United Nations Security Council Consolidated lists. Below the charts is information on OFAC licenses, where applicable, and links to our research and advocacy, and other relevant information.  

Humanitarian &
Peacebuilding Needs

According to the latest Humanitarian Needs Overview by OCHA, 0.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Libya. 

Food Security and Nutrition: Around 36% of households report limited/poor access to a sufficient drinking water source. Women and girls are more likely to have poorer nutrition than male refugees and migrants. 

Disease and Healthcare: More than 22% of health care centers have been closed. A quarter of those that remain open does not offer essential services. Lack of sanitation and hygiene remains a significant challenge for many people, particularly IDPs. 

Ongoing Hostilities: In the first three months of 2020, the UN Support Mission to Libya has documented at least 131 civilian casualties. Heavy shelling and fighting continue to cause displacement, destroying homes, and damaging critical infrastructure.

Displacement: Insecurity and conflict remain the central driver of displacement. The number of IDPs has nearly doubled since the conflict reignited in April 2019. Approximately 374,000 remain displaced across Libya.  

Gender-based violence (GBV): Of those displaced, more than half are women and girls. Psychosocial and gender-based violence support services are very limited.

al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM): Since 1998, this group’s leadership is headquartered in Algeria, but the group operates throughout Libya. Designated as an FTO by the U.S. More information here.

Ansar al-Sharia groups: Active since June 2012 but officially disbanded in May 2017. Mainly operates in the east, mostly in Benghazi and Darnah. More information here.

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)-Libya: This branch of ISIS was formed in 2014. No longer controls territory in Libya but maintains a low-profile presence throughout much of the country. Designated as an FTO by the U.S. and under the UN ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List. More information here.

al-Mulathamun Battalion: AMB was originally part of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) but became a separate organization in late 2012.  It maintains an operational presence throughout Libya and is designated by the U.S. as an FTO.  More information here.

Primary Terrorist Presence &
Other Sanctioned Groups

Access overview of Libya Sanctions here. Access overview of UN ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions committee here.

“Insufficient domestic and international efforts to ensure accountability for ongoing crimes in Libya have emboldened State and non-State actors, some of whom are engaged in armed conflicts, to commit violations and abuses with impunity.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Joint Letter on Establishing a Commission of Inquiry for Libya, 4 December 2019 

Licenses offered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Department of Treasury enforces sanctions programs. It has a licensing process that allows transactions with sanctioned entities, including listed terrorist groups, that would otherwise be unlawful. Nonprofits that operate in areas affected by sanctions often apply for licenses from OFAC so that they are able to provide services to civilians in conflict zones around the world without running afoul of U.S. sanctions law, engage in peacebuilding activities and more. Find more information here.

Policy Reform

The Charity & Security Network advocates for change in national security measures to better support nonprofits working around the world. In fragile contexts, counterterrorism measures often impede humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding organizations from accessing finance for their programs and serving populations in need. Find out more on our key issues below:

  • Find more information on Material Support here.
  • Find more information on Financial Access here.

Useful Links

last updated: May 13, 2020