IOM: Over 700,000 Migrants Present in Libya


On Saturday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the total number of irregular migrants in Libya is estimated at 706,062 migrants, from more than 44 countries.

The number of migrants in Libya has continued to increase slightly, compared to the previous round of data collection (694,398 migrants, Round 45, November – December 2022).

In 2020, the number of migrants in Libya declined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its socioeconomic impact. Since 2021, the number of migrants has been increasing, yet it remains far lower than prior to the onset of conflict in 2011, when there was an estimated 2.5 million migrants in Libya.

In its periodic report, the UN organization said that the migrants are distributed among the Libyan cities as follows: “112,266 migrants in Tripoli, 83,877 migrants in Benghazi, 71,718 migrants in Misrata, 58,860 in Ajdabiya, 44,770 in Zawiya, 40,132 in Al-Marqab, and 34,480 in Al-Jafara, while there are 31,215 immigrants in Zuwara, and the rest of the immigrants are distributed over more than 100 Libyan municipalities.”

In line with previous rounds of data collection, the majority of migrants in Libya are nationals from neighbouring countries: Niger (24%), Egypt (23%), Sudan (19%), and Chad (12%).

This trend highlights the influence of geographical proximity, and diasporic ties as significant factors influencing migration patterns in Libya.
Overall, half of the migrants in Libya were from sub-Saharan Africa (49%), over two in five were from North Africa (43%), and a minority were from the Middle East (4%) or Asia (4%).

The largest migrant populations identified by DTM during round 46 of data collection were in the coastal regions of Tripoli (16%), Benghazi (12%), Misrata (10%), Ajdabiya (8%), Al-Zawiya (6%) and Al-Margeb (6%).

The coastal areas are home to the majority of urban areas and cropland, while the rest of Libya (more than 95% of the total area) is mainly desertic or arid areas.

The IOM noted that 3,897 migrants were intercepted in the Mediterranean, and returned to Libya in 2023.

Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The county has for years been split between rival administrations, each backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.