Expats should note that travelling to Libya is not recommended. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Libya due to the ongoing fighting, threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping of foreigners (including from ISIL-affiliated extremists), as well as a dangerous security situation throughout the country.
Political contestation at the highest levels of government and continued militia presence in some areas, including Tripoli and Benghazi, are major medium-term obstacles. Ethnic tensions and civil war have resulted in severe internal instability and conflict at times. Clashes between rival groups are frequently reported in the country’s central and southern areas, while a growth in the presence of Islamist-leaning militia groups in eastern Libya, specifically around Benghazi, are worrying signs.
Crime in Libya
The crime rate in Libya is growing and has been fuelled by the easy availability of weapons, high levels of unemployment, a poorly resourced police force and presence of numerous non-state militia groups.
Serious armed crime, such as carjacking, robbery and burglary, is common in major cities. Petty street crimes are also a concern. The possibility of being affected increases if common sense precautions are not adopted or if property is left unattended in public or in plain view, such as in a vehicle. Expats should invest in adequate residential security measures.
Kidnapping in Libya
There is a very high threat of kidnapping throughout Libya from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists, including those who have affiliated with ISIL. In many cases, it is foreigners who are targeted.
Protests in Libya
Protests in Libya are motivated by local disputes and concerns and political developments. Libya is likely to remain susceptible to unrest in the future. During periods of unrest the threat to expats is considered incidental only.
Road safety in Libya
Driving standards in Libya are poor and the country has a high traffic-accident rate. The situation is exacerbated by lax enforcement of traffic laws and poor road conditions, particularly outside of main cities and towns, and poorly maintained vehicles. The threat of accidents increases further at night and during sandstorms when visibility is greatly reduced.
Checkpoints are a common feature across main towns in Libya. These can be manned by former rebel fighters, as well as interim government troops and police. These checkpoints are designed to stem the flow of weaponry in the respective cities and ensure that anti-government elements and former regime supporters are not able to transit into the respective cities to conduct attacks.
Many of the checkpoints are manned by inexperienced and poorly trained personnel, which raises the possibility of misunderstandings and security threats.
►For an overview of the country's healthcare system, see Healthcare in Libya.
"Like everywhere in the world, there are always places to avoid but that’s not only for expats. The security situation in Libya is always kind of unstable, so it’s best to be careful at all times and take the advice of the locals when they mention safety issues. Having said that, we don’t feel afraid living here; it’s not a problem in our everyday life."
Read more about French expat Jameela's experiences in Libya.
Are you an expat living in Libya?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Libya. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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