Libya

Instability and violence in Libya have left over a million people in need of assistance, and IDPs, refugees and migrants are regularly identified as being among the most vulnerable population groups. Central and local authorities and their humanitarian partners analyse the situation continuously, but collecting comparable data is difficult given the country’s fragmented political situation and international partners’ operations being largely based on remote management. At the same time humanitarian funding for Libya is limited, and people are known to be returning in large numbers to unknown conditions. Urban areas are at the centre of the displacement crisis, both as locations hosting displaced persons and as areas of return.

Following a regional Profiling Coordination Training in Tunis, Tunisia, in November 2016 JIPS received two support requests from the Government’s IDP Office and UNHCR as well as UN-Habitat and UNFPA, to support profiling processes in urban areas in the country.

Project overview

Combining analysis of population groups and urban systems (2016 – 2017)
Our support was triggered by a request from UNHCR Libya for a Profiling Coordination Training (PCT) in Tunis, Tunisia. The PCT was organised in November 2016 for a broad range of Libyan authorities and their humanitarian and development partners. The training offered participants who worked in different parts of the country a unique opportunity to build relationships, in addition to learning how to implement a profiling process. It also fostered a collaborative mindset so that despite the political and operational obstacles in the country, at the end of the training many of the participants expressed an interest in working together on a profiling exercise in 2017.

This was followed by two further requests from:

  1. the Government of National Accord’s IDP Office andUNHCR to support an urban displacement profiling exercise; and
  2. UN-Habitat and UNFPA, to support city profiling exercises in six urban areas.

In order to ensure comprehensive analysis and capitalise on available resources, we recommended for these two planned processes to merge to establish a cross-sectoral and mutually agreed evidence base that would not only help all stakeholders to better understand the needs of the most vulnerable IDPs and host community members, but also examine the strength and weaknesses of urban systems in responding to the needs of these populations.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

During our scoping mission to Tunis in February 2017 we met representatives from a broad range of Libyan authorities, including Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Social Affairs and the IDP Office under the Office of the Prime Minister, along with humanitarian sectors, UN-Habitat, UNFPA, UNHCR and their respective municipality partners. We also participated in a two-day workshop on city profiling exercises organised by the Ministry of Planning, UN-Habitat and UNFPA.

Toward the end of the mission, the partners in the two separate profiling exercises met and agreed to combine their efforts into a single joint process coordinated by a steering committee made up of the Ministry of Planning and the three UN agencies. The steering committee in turn was expected to establish a technical committee to implement the exercise.

We conducted a second mission in September 2017 to provide technical support to the profiling partners in developing their profiling methodology. We especially advocated for a combined approach, linking the analysis of population groups (e.g. IDPs and host communities) with that of urban systems (infrastructure and services).

Due to unforeseen challenges in carrying out the profiling in the planned timeframe the process was not completed to date, but discussions around the need for comprehensive urban displacement analysis remain pertinent.

Impact & lessons learned

Although the full profiling process was not completed as planned, the early decision to merge the two potential exercises into one avoided a number of potentially negative consequences, including the duplication of efforts and wasted resources. More importantly, it eliminated the risk of incompatible methodologies generating contradictory data or producing a fragmented analysis of only one aspect of the overall picture.

Combining the aims of the original two exercises – the displacement profiling exercise to produce an in-depth analysis of the demographic profile, living conditions, needs and coping mechanisms of displaced and non-displaced Libyans, and the city profiling exercise to assess the strengths and weaknesses in urban infrastructure and services – into one analysis remains relevant in Libya today in order to inform holistic planning for durable solutions for all populations residing in urban hubs.

It is also something we are now supporting in other contexts, such as Syria, IraqAfghanistan and more, and working closely on with partners in the Global Alliance for Urban Crises at the global level.

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