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UN rights expert urges Libya to aid those displaced by conflict

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Cecilia Jimenez-Damary [official website] on Friday urged Libya to intensify efforts to aid Libyans [press release] who have been displaced as a result of the country's ongoing conflict.

Jimenez-Damary presented her findings in an end of mission statement [text]. The report lacks definitive data on exactly how many internally displaced persons (IDPs) there are in the country, but it estimates there are approximately 193,000.

Since the fall of the country's former dictator, in-fighting between independent militias and rebel factions escalated in 2014. This resulted in substantial displacement of civilians in both urban and rural areas. The report states there are refugee camps outside of cities as well as in urban areas. Within cities, many IDPs become squatters in abandoned buildings, warehouses, and factories. Some are even required to pay rent. The Special Rapporteur suggested such conditions can compound the widespread discrimination IDPs already are facing, making it difficult for IDPs to restart their lives.

The report states that discrimination faced by IDPs include access to public services; lack of legal protection; discrimination in schools; and difficulties finding work. Many IDPs fled in haste and failed to carry their legal papers and documentation with them. Without their official documents and away from their homes of origin, it remains difficult to obtain public services. Due to political pressures, judges are often hesitant to hear cases addressing discrimination against IDP's. Employee discrimination against IDPs by employers is common, making it difficult for them to regain livelihood. Discrimination against IDPs also come in the form of arbitrary arrest, torture, unlawful killings, indiscriminate attacks, disappearances or forced displacement. Families fear their sons might be recruited by armed militias.

The report commends the Libyan government for establishing a Minister of IDPs, Ministry of State for Displaced, and High Committee for the Return of IDPs. However, it stresses that the government still needs to intensify its efforts to resettle and stabilize its internally displaced civilians.

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