Basic international humanitarian law (IHL) rules applicable to this situation:
The parties to the conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need, without distinction, subject to their right of control.
The parties to the conflict must ensure that authorized humanitarian relief personnel have the freedom of movement they need to carry out their work. Only in case of imperative military necessity may their movements be temporarily restricted.
The case in brief
Libya’s remote southwest area of Fezzan is home to various ethnic and tribal groups. Clashes between armed forces and non-state armed groups vying for control of resources, territory and border traffic led to widespread criminal activity and insecurity. The insecurity prevented health services from bringing in essential supplies, contributing to a dire humanitarian situation.
In June 2016, the Community of Sant’Egidio, an international non-governmental organization, brought together representatives of Fezzan’s ethnic and political groups, who committed to working together to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to the region. As a result, humanitarian personnel were able to supply one of Fezzan’s main hospitals with vital medical supplies.
IHL compliance highlights
- On 16 June 2016, recognizing the need to address the humanitarian situation, representatives of all Fezzan’s ethnic and political groups signed an agreement mediated by the Community of Sant’Egidio. In particular, the signatories:
- committed to facilitating the delivery of essential humanitarian aid to all inhabitants of Fezzan ‘without distinctions’, by ensuring that humanitarian organizations could work in safety
- agreed to work together to obtain the necessary support from the Libyan authorities, the international community and humanitarian organizations to bring aid to Fezzan
- agreed, as a first step, to facilitate the delivery of urgent aid to eight health centres, on the understanding that this would build trust among the parties and foster cooperation on further humanitarian initiatives.
- As a result of the agreement and consequent cooperation between the Libyan authorities, the Community of Sant’Egidio and the World Food Programme, a first consignment of medical supplies was safely delivered to one of Fezzan’s key hospitals in July.
Libya, Humanitarian Assistance Delivered in South Libya
A. LIBYA: HUMANITARIAN AGREEMENT FOR FEZZAN SIGNED AT SANT’EGIDIO ON 16 JUNE 2016