Representatives of Tawergha internally displaced people showcased their problems to deputy head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for political affairs, Stephanie Williams, on Sunday.
The IDPs living in the cities of Ajdabiya and Benghazi held the meeting at the mission’s headquarters in Benghazi, as part of Williams’ wider round of meetings in eastern Libya.
The participants spoke of challenges faced by women and children regarding health and education, as well as the high unemployment rate among the displaced.
UNSMIL reported that Williams reiterated the commitment of UNSMIL’s leadership to provide assistance to displaced people and engage with all parties in Libya to address their problems.
As part of her wider trip to the east seen as an effort to relaunch a political dialogue rather than the ongoing fighting, Williams had met various NGOs political activists and mayors in Tobruk, Derna, Benghazi, and Shahat over the last five days.
Libyan IDPs are now dispersed, living in various areas in which they have relatives or acquaintances, including other IDP settlements. Some families who owned cars are now sleeping in them.
UNHCR repeatedly calls for the respect of human rights, the protection of civilians and for the right of displaced persons to decide their own future.
The people of Tawergha are an ethnic minority – approximately 40,000 people – who were forced to flee their homes in 2011. The majority of them sought refuge in informal settlements around Tripoli or Benghazi. They have now been internally displaced for seven years and are waiting to return home.
In Libya, some 192,000 displaced people have been living in dire conditions for years. UNHCR calls for urgent solutions to end their suffering and return home in a voluntary, safe, and dignified manner.
The oil-rich country has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of former leader Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011. Since then, two rival seats of power emerged, one in eastern Libya, supported by the Libyan National Army, and the Tripoli-based government recognized by U.N.