The unsafe and complex journeys undertaken by migrants reaching Libya and beyond, expose them as well as host communities, to multiple health risks which are augmented when migrants are detained while rescued at sea or captured from communities. Continuous and prolonged challenges in Libya have left the health system fragmented and ineffective, lacking the ability to respond to the health needs of the population, especially migrants, IDPs and returnees. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya from March 2020, migrants have been further challenged in accessing both basic and critical services from a health system that has been further weakened by the exponential spread of the virus. 72 per cent of surveyed migrants have limited or no access to health care. Migrants have also reported experiencing increased discrimination and stigmatization from authorities at health facilities, which has heightened during the COVID19 pandemic.
According to surveys for the Libya Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2021, 54 per cent of Libyan returnees have challenges accessing health services, followed by 52 per cent of displaced Libyan households and 50 per cent of surveyed Libyans. Many public health care facilities are closed and those that are open lack medicines, supplies and equipment. Many facilities have been directly attacked or damaged due to fighting and those that remain functional are overburdened or not maintained. Access to health, education and other public services are further restricted for people who have lost legal documents, or for those who do not have them, such as migrants and refugees.
The IOM Migrant Health programme provides health services to migrants and IDPs through regular visits to priority locations by mobile health teams. In addition to providing primary health care services and referrals to access lifesaving interventions and specialized care in hospitals, IOM offers health services to migrants in detention centres, at disembarkation points and in urban settings. IOM also conducts pre-departure medical screening for the resettlement of refugees and for migrants returning to their country of origin through the Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme.