UNDP Helping Libyans Return Home


The conflict that began in Libya in 2011 forced about a million people from their homes, mostly to cities such as the capital, Tripoli. Trapped in displacement, they struggled to find work, cover their basic needs, get a good education for their children, stay healthy, and feel safe.

When hostilities began to cease, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and partners worked with national and local governments to rebuild trust with citizens who had gone through years of civil war and displacement.

When Misrata and Tawergha signed a UN-mediated peace treaty to end the conflict between the two cities in 2018, IDP’s from Tawergha could contemplate returning, ending a seven-year-long chapter of conflict and displacement.

“When the roads were reopened, I quit my job in Tripoli, packed my belongings, and returned to my city,” said Faisal Essa, who had fled Tawergha in 2011 along with 95% of its residents due to the heavy fighting and reprisal attacks.

Faisal and others found their homes and infrastructure badly damaged, and a fragile economy that made recovery even more complicated.

Jumaa also chose to return. “Our excitement quickly turned to a realization that life wouldn’t be easy. Almost everything had been destroyed,” he said. Along with the destruction, returnees found there were no jobs, electricity, water, gas, transportation, and health and education facilities.

The local council faced the urgent task of providing essential services for returning residents. UNDP helped them re-establish services, create jobs, and begin the process of creating a sense of community again.

Among the work UNDP has supported is the installation of 40 solar-powered lampposts that has made residents feel safer. One of the lampposts is outside Jumaa’s shop. “Previously I had to close the shop after sunset, but now I can stay open until late,” he said.

With the support of UNDP, the local administration has provided help to small businesses that have seen the creation of over 200 jobs in Tawergha, and rehabilitated three schools with over 500 students. More than half the previous population of 40,000 people have returned. “Tawergha has restored its life gradually,” said Faisal.

The rehabilitation of schools in Libya has been pivotal in encouraging people to return to their hometowns. Eleven-year-old Faraj and his family were displaced from the city of Sirte. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. The school had been completely destroyed, reduced to a pile of rubble,” he said.

The municipal authorities in Sirte, supported by UNDP, undertook the complete renovation of the school building. Now, 500 students and 82 staff members are benefiting from the transformed learning environment.

“The school looks absolutely beautiful. I’m thrilled to continue my education and pursue my dream of becoming a doctor,” said Faraj. “I also love playing football and I’m incredibly happy to be able to play with my friends on the new field.”

A medical clinic for children in Sirte had been badly damaged in the fighting. “We had no choice but to travel to Bin Jawad, which is 150 kilometers away,” said Awad Khalifa. The clinic has now been restored, and is fully equipped to provide services to the community once again.

UNDP’s work in support of displaced people and returnees was initially part of the 2016-2022 Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL), which helped national and local administrations across 24 municipalities.

Over 500,000 returnees have benefited from improved infrastructure and better access to services. The capacity of municipalities has been supported, and local mediation has been strengthened.

“Our work in restoring communities and empowering internally displaced persons is not just about rebuilding infrastructure, but about rebuilding lives. By fostering resilience, providing essential services, and promoting local peacebuilding, we lay the foundation for a brighter, inclusive future,” said Marc-André Franche, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Libya.