UN Migration Agency Strengthens Coordination for Assistance and Protection of Vulnerable Migrants in Libya

Tunis – IOM, the UN Migration Agency is stepping up its protection response to the most vulnerable migrants, including women and children, in Libya.

This new protection intervention focuses on expanding the protection space for migrants in vulnerable situations in Libya. More specifically it includes: strengthened identification and care of migrants at risk of trafficking and exploitation; piloting alternatives to detention for women, children, the sick and wounded; prioritizing the most at risk cases for voluntary humanitarian return if so desired; strengthening humanitarian assistance and vulnerability triage is key as soon as migrants are rescued from the sea.

IOM continues, in close cooperation with the Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), to advocate for the release from detention of the most vulnerable, such as children and women, and to place them in suitable alternatives such as “safe spaces” and/or increasingly migrant-friendly community housing.

“IOM is committed to bring a positive change for those migrants in vulnerable situations in Libya in full cooperation with both the Libyan authorities and key partners, including UNICEF and UNHCR,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM Senior Protection Officer.

As part of its response plan, IOM has initiated a one-day joint meeting with UNHCR and UNICEF to present the findings of an IOM-led mapping of existing assistance and protection services in Libya, and to develop joint standard operating procedures to leverage on respective mandates and render the protection response more efficient across UN actors.

According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), 91 per cent of the 393,652 migrants identified in Libya are adults, whilst the remaining 9 per cent are children. IOM’s detention centre mapping tool suggests that 13 of the 29 government-led detention centres are hosting 140 unaccompanied children. IOM has already assisted 120 children to return home in line with their best interests with family tracing and reintegration support given once they are back home in their countries of origin.

“Detention is not a place for children,” emphasized Karolina Edsbacker, IOM Protection Officer, stressing the need to find alternatives. Women, especially pregnant and lactating women, should also increasingly be offered alternatives to detention, such as placement in migrant-friendly houses and/or hospitals and safe spaces.

Recognizing the vast need, IOM is also expanding its presence in Libya in order to be able to identify and assist more vulnerable cases.

For more information, please contact at IOM Libya, Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600 389, Email: or Karolina Edsbacker, Tel: +216 29 202 896, Email: