Child Poverty in LibyaAs of 2023, approximately one-third of the Libyan population is living below the poverty line, indicating a significant issue of child poverty within the country. Consequently, Libya has an assigned score of 6.97/10 on the Realization of Children’s Rights Index (RCRI). This rating categorizes the situation of children’s rights in Libya as “difficult.”


The issue of conflict has played a significant role in exacerbating child poverty in Libya. For instance, the Libyan Revolt of 2011 had a detrimental impact on health care standards, depriving parents and children of essential medical care. As a result, they experienced a reduced ability to work, and this pushed families further into poverty. The uprising also resulted in the loss or injury of many parents, further hindering their capacity to fulfill their work responsibilities effectively. The revolt caused the deaths of at least 1,142 civilians and injured over 1,000, leaving behind orphaned children and intensifying child poverty in Libya.

Another contributing factor to child poverty was the disruption of education during the war. Despite the availability of free schooling, more than 61,000 students were unable to complete their academic term in 2011. Moreover, the destruction of 15 school buildings by bombings exacerbated the educational deficit.


The most damaging effect of child poverty is on the health and well-being of affected children. According to a U.N. report, only 14% of children aged between 6 and 23 months receive the minimum diet as of 2019. The same report reveals that 321,200 children are in need of primary and secondary health services in Libya.

The widespread malnutrition of Libyan children is incredibly damaging to the child’s growth, well-being and development. According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the negative effects of malnutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life include reduced brain development, a weakened immune system and visual impairment.

Another impact of living in a post-conflict and impoverished society comes from the desire to obtain funds regardless of the method. In Libya, many children living in poverty collect and sell weapons and ammunition left over from wartime to earn money for their families. Other kids pick up weapons or shrapnel out of sheer curiosity, relishing in new, shiny, foreign objects. Naturally, this is very dangerous. Unfortunately, some children have injured themselves or unfortunately lost their lives as a result.


Concrete measures exist to alleviate child poverty rates in Libya. Since 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been actively addressing malnutrition in Libya. Through monthly provisions of food and support, the WFP assists around 90,000 vulnerable individuals. Additionally, it offers financial contributions to bolster the country’s social programs. Collaborating with the U.N. and the Government of Libya, the WFP strives to implement effective solutions to reduce child poverty rates in the post-conflict era.

There has been notable progress in reducing infant mortality rates, but further advancements require attention to youth development.

Education stands as the key to breaking the cycle of child poverty in Libya. Education not only alleviates poverty at an individual level but also at a societal level. According to the World Bank, education enhances employment opportunities, fostering economic growth and innovation.

By ensuring improved access to education, this long-term solution aims to break the cycle of child poverty in Libya. In enhancing job prospects for children facing poverty, education plays a crucial role in their empowerment.

The Multi-Year Resilience Programme

There is ongoing progress with respect to addressing the challenging goal of tackling child poverty in Libya. One notable organization working towards this is ‘Education Cannot Wait‘, founded in 2016 by international humanitarian aid and development actors. Its mission is to create a safe learning environment for children affected by crisis. Education Cannot Wait has launched initiatives in crisis-affected countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Iraq and Libya.

The Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP), initiated in 2022 with an investment of $11.1 million, is part of these efforts. The MYRP focuses on improving education access by implementing various strategies. The poorest children receive cash transfers, and this helps to alleviate financial constraints on education. Investments go into training teachers to ensure the delivery of high-quality and inclusive education.

As of June 2023, the MYRP has yielded positive results in Libya. There are currently 723 teachers, and 28,000 children have benefited from additional support in schools, including improved sanitation and access to clean water. Furthermore, 2,975 children have received crucial free meals provided by the schools.

While these efforts show promise, the problem of child poverty in Libya requires further attention. There is a need for more commitment and vigilance from all involved parties working to drive change.

– Tom Eccles
Photo: Unsplash

Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya

In Libya, approximately 823,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. This prompted the World Health Organization to create a Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya (HRP). Through this plan, WHO targets 552,000 individuals suffering from the Libyan Crisis, which stems from the Arab uprisings and revolts in 2011.

WHO, as well as partner organizations, plans to provide humanitarian assistance that focuses on key needs such as protection, access to healthcare, education, safe drinking water and sanitation and access to household goods such as essential food and non-food items (NFIs). Here is a look inside WHO’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya.

Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya

WHO’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya targets seven sectors: education; health; protection; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); food security; shelter and non-food items and multipurpose cash. The health sector has the largest portion of people in need, with approximately 554,000 individuals. The two main objectives of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya are to

  • “provide and improve safe and dignified access to essential goods and critical public services in synergy with sustainable development assistance,” and
  • “enhance protection and promote adherence to International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law and International Refugee Law.”

This plan requires $202 million in funding. Therefore, each sector has designated funding based on the goals it plans to implement. The main sectors and their goals are as follows.

  1. Protection: The protection sector is geographically focused. The prioritized areas have the most severe conditions. The 2019 plan intends to bridge the gaps in data regarding protection from past years. The HRP also plans to expand protection monitoring, protection assessments and quality of services as well as reinforce community-based responses.
  2. Health: Several healthcare facilities were destroyed and damaged during the crisis. Non-communicable diseases have started to spread throughout Libya as well. The plan provides access to health services at primary and secondary levels. It also aims to monitor diseases. In addition, the plan prioritizes WASH programs, mental health and psychosocial support.
  3. WASH: Another key focus of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya is WASH. The plan hopes to focus its attention on newly displaced persons. Thus, the goals of the WASH sector aim to improve WASH facilities in detention centers, respond to urgent needs and technical support. In doing so, the plan hopes to ensure children have access to safe WASH facilities. It also advocates for the repair of the Man-Made River Project. Moreover, this sector will collaborate with the education sector.
  4. Education: The education sector plans to target 71,000 individuals. Children in high conflict areas are being mentally affected by trauma and distress. These can further affect school attendance and performance. The HRP wants to improve formal education by means of teacher training and provide more supplies for educators. As such, this sector will also prioritize mental health in grades 1-12.
  5. Shelter/NFIs: Shelter and NFI sector focuses on the population displacement as well as damages to infrastructure and homes caused by the uprisings. This sector seeks to secure safe housing for those who are displaced. This sector targets about 195,000 individuals to receive shelter aid.

Overall, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya is making strides. As of June 2019, WHO has provided trauma kits and emergency medical supplies to 35 healthcare facilities. This is an increase from the first provision in March. Similarly, medicines for chronic and infectious diseases have been given as well as insulin. In terms of mental health, in January, WHO trained 22 participants in mental health through primary health facilities. The sector also provided training for maternal and reproductive health as well. With this momentum, in time, WHO will continue to meet the goals and targets of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya.

Logan Derbes
Photo: Flickr

Health in LibyaAs a result of the 2011 civil war that culminated with the ousting of longtime Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, multiple sectors of Libyan society needed to be rebuilt. While progress has been made since the end of the conflict, long-term reform in the health sector of Libya presents obstacles due to the continuing violence and a lack of resources. Following are 10 facts about health in Libya.

  1. Libya had a fairly strong healthcare structure prior to the civil war. The country had proficient water and sanitation systems and near-universal vaccination coverage.
  2. In 2010, the top two reported communicable diseases in Libya were influenza and diarrhea. Cardiovascular disease, a noncommunicable disease, was the number one cause of death in Libya that year.
  3. When the civil war began, health in Libya began to deteriorate. The primary health system collapsed in the eastern part of the country, and fewer hospitals had to accommodate an increased number of patients.
  4. The issues continued after the 2011 civil war ended. Libyan hospitals were previously staffed by foreigners who left Libya when the civil war began and never returned. Also, the factional state of the current Libyan government has made it increasingly difficult to implement a health policy across the whole country.
  5. Libyan hospitals are still overloaded with patients. This is exacerbated by the fact that 43 out of 98 hospitals in Libya are partially functional or not functional at all.
  6. This resulted in 1.3 million people needing health humanitarian aid in 2017. There was also a decrease in vaccination coverage and an increase in maternal mortality in Libya.
  7. Despite these setbacks, progress has been achieved. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently held National Immunization Days where 1.3 million Libyan children were vaccinated.
  8. HIV/AIDS prevention also suffered from the Libyan civil conflicts. At one point, the rollout of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs ended.
  9. Currently, HIV/AIDS is considered to be a concentrated epidemic among high-risk groups in Libya, while its prevalence among the general population remains relatively low. In 2016, there were 6,330 registered HIV patients in Libya.
  10. Health in Libya also extends to mental health. After the civil war, there were only 12 psychiatrists in Libya and mental health services were provided at two hospitals. Due to the number of Libyans who survived war-like conditions, mental health training became required for various workers in the medical field.

Malika Saim, a Doctors Without Borders staff member currently working in Libya, said that Libya is “a country where the problems aren’t immediately obvious, but so much is needed.” With continued cooperation between Libyan officials and international aid organizations and ongoing peace talks, hopefully health in Libya will improve, providing care to those who need it most.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Google