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

Mental Health

Asylum seeker dies in Libya’s detention centre fire.

Press Release 3 Mar 2020
MSF Flag

Hundreds of migrants detained after mass arrests in Tripoli, Libya

Press Release 11 Jan 2022
MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Med Sea, 10 found dead
Mediterranean Migration

10 more lives lost on the world’s deadliest migration route

Press Release 18 Nov 2021
Women detained at female-only Sorman detention centre, around 60km west of Tripoli, Libya. Detainees receive irregular rations that are distributed once or twice day if not at all.

Thousands of people detained and left with no medical care after mass arrests

Press Release 6 Oct 2021
A woman with burns detained in Sorman at female-only detention centre around 60km west of Tripoli, Libya. She is assisted by another detainee.

MSF returns to Tripoli detention centres after 3 months of suspension

Latest News 30 Sep 2021
Women and children detained at female-only Sorman detention centre, around 60km west of Tripoli, Libya.

Pushed back to Libya & forced into inhumane detention centres

Latest News 24 Aug 2021
Massacre in the Mediterranean is the direct result of European state policies

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

Press Release 13 Nov 2020