Libya Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

Libya has, thanks to the oil, had a high standard of living compared to the rest of Africa, with a well-developed welfare structure and guest workers who did the heaviest jobs. The fighting since 2011 has seriously worsened the situation.

Libya is a conservative country, also compared to many other states in the Arab world. Religion has a strong position and traditional values ​​characterize society. Most genera were only a few generations ago from full or half-nomads, who lived in poverty, but the country underwent a very rapid modernization during the 20th century. Today, almost eight out of ten Libyans live in the cities.

New living patterns have changed society, while traditional communities continue to influence everyday life. For example, customer affiliation is still an important part of many Libyans’ identities, more than in most countries in North Africa (see Population and Languages).

libya population

The success years thanks to the oil industry led to a dramatic increase in educational levels and literacy. Libya has long had Africa’s highest standard of living, despite financial difficulties under international sanctions against the Gaddafi regime in 1992–1999. From the 1970s, the state provided citizens with housing, free education and healthcare, work in the public sector and price support for a large selection of basic goods and services. The state created a compensation system for work injuries and illness, as well as disability, even though guest workers performed many of the heaviest jobs. Parental leave and pension were set up and almost all children were vaccinated against tuberculosis and measles.

There were major shortcomings, but the situation was on the whole better than the one that prevailed during the last ten-year period. The civil war in 2011 caused many foreign doctors and nurses to leave the country, which has posed major problems for the healthcare system. Living conditions have generally deteriorated since 2011. The UN estimated in 2015 that nearly 450,000 Libyans were forced to flee their homes because of the fighting. In 2017, 217,000 Libyans were still living as internal refugees and 1.3 million were reported to suffer from food shortages. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported the same year that there was a crying lack of important medicines and medical equipment, several hospitals and many health centers had been closed.

The prolonged conflicts, since the spring of 2019 with war events increasingly closer to the capital Tripoli, have created new internal refugees and led to stressful experiences even for people who could remain in their homes. The possibilities of assisting them with psychiatric help are limited.

The situation is most difficult for the many migrants who are trapped in Libya in the hope of being able to reach a future in Europe, they lack most of the basic social services and legal security. Between 2017 and 2019, more than 40,000 migrants / refugees were registered with the UN organization UNHCR. In connection with the offensive against Tripoli that forces under General Haftar, based in eastern Libya, started in 2019, the conditions became even more difficult for them. Some, mainly people from sub-Saharan Africa, have been transported out of Libya through international organizations to reach their home countries.

The security situation still allows few aid organizations to operate in the country.


Infant Mortality: 10 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 0.2 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 96.8 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 100.0 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 5.0 percent (2011)

Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 313 (2011)

Proportion of women in parliament: 16 percent (2018)



Military leaders are attacked

Tripoli’s lawlessness continues to create problems, even for the country’s new elite. One of the new regime’s heaviest military leaders, General Khalifa Haftar, is attacked by armed men from the Zintan Brigade as he arrives at Tripoli International Airport.


New head of government

November 24

Engineer Abderrahim al-Keib is elected new Prime Minister for the Transitional Government.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi grips

November 19

Gaddafi’s son and supposed successors are taken prisoner in southwestern Libya, by the Zintan brigades who do not obey the National Transitional Council.

al-Saadi Gaddafi receives asylum in Niger

November 11

Niger’s president says al-Saadi Gaddafi may stay in the country for humanitarian reasons.

Continued battles

Struggles between rival militia groups near the city of al-Zawiya cause at least ten people to be killed. The transitional government has far from supported all over the country. In many places there are armed groups that refuse to submit to the new regime. This is especially true in Tripoli and western Libya, which was mainly conquered by the militia from Misrata and al-Zintan (Nafus Mountains), rather than by troops from the areas controlled by the National Transitional Council in the east.


Nato insert is canceled

October 31st

The decision is made by the UN Security Council.

The Prime Minister resigns

October 23

Mahmud Jibril resigns according to a promise to leave the post as soon as the Gaddafi regime has fallen.

“Libya liberated”

22 October

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdeljalil announces in a speech in Benghazi that Libya is liberated. He says that the state that is now to be built closest from the ground up should be based on Islamic law, Sharia, but does not provide any details.

Gaddafi killed

October 20

Finally, Gaddafi’s own hometown of Sirte also falls and Gaddafi himself is killed. Parts of Sirte are destroyed, many die and thousands flee. Human rights organizations report suspected massacres on Gaddafi supporters.

Bani Walid falls

Hard fighting has raged in the city in the northwest, which is the home of the great Warfall tribe. Warfalla has contributed many members to Gaddafi’s security forces.


The UN forms Libyan intervention

The UN sets up a support effort for Libya, Unsmil. It is not a military operation but is commissioned to support the transitional government.

The AU recognizes the Transitional Council

The recognition of the African Union gives the National Transitional Council greater legitimacy.
Fighting continues. This is especially true in areas where the regime has traditional support and where it has concentrated its last forces under the leadership of Gaddafi and his relatives.


Gaddafi family in Algeria

Gaddafi’s wife and three children (Mohammed, Aisha and Hannibal) were received in the neighboring country for humanitarian reasons.

Tripoli is taken, Gaddafi underground

The rebels reach the capital after they, with the support of NATO bombings, managed to conquer important cities nearby. Tripoli also has foreign special forces on the side of the rebels. Soon the rebels occupy Gaddafi’s headquarters and Gaddafi himself goes underground.

Temporary basis is adopted

The National Transitional Council adopts a constitution which stipulates, among other things, that elections to a provisional parliament must be held within eight months of the country’s liberation.


Warning about rebel abuse

Human Rights Watch claims that the rebels in the West, where the fiercest fighting is going on, are guilty of civilian abuse. The recurring reports of attacks on black Africans are also beginning to become troublesome for the National Transitional Council, but the focus of the world is mainly on the government’s abuse.


French arms delivery

France confirms that weapons had been delivered to rebels in the Nafus Mountains south of Tripoli. According to the French government, this was a way of protecting the civilian population, which the UN Resolution 1973 (“all necessary means”) allows, despite the arms embargo established in Resolution 1970.

International arrest warrant against Gaddafi

Prosecutors at the ICC also issue arrest warrants against the leader’s son Saif al-Islam and spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi, for crimes against humanity.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs is leaving

March 30

Moussa Koussa, who is Gaddafi’s closest adviser on foreign policy issues, is leaving London. Koussa has also been head of intelligence for many years.

Temporary government is formed

March 23rd

The National Transitional Council sets up an “Executive Council” with US-based economist Mahmud Jibril as interim head of government.

Flight operations begin

March 20

The United States, France and the United Kingdom launch military attacks against the Libyan government forces’ positions from the air and from ships. The command of the air strikes will soon be taken over by NATO.

UN Resolution on Aviation Ban Zone

March 17

The Security Council decides to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. Member States have the right to take “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan civilian population, it says. A few days earlier, the Arab League unexpectedly announced support for the ban on flights. The resolution is adopted with 10 votes in favor and 5 abstained, including Russia and China.

The regime regains ground

Several oil ports are being recaptured and soon Gaddafi’s forces are penetrating Benghazi’s suburbs. The National Transitional Council asks the outside world for help.


Guest workers flee

The fighting triggers a mass escape of foreign workers. Tunisians and Egyptians can quickly return to their home countries, but many guest workers and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa – not infrequently paperless illegal immigrants – are trapped in camps at border crossings.

Criticism in the outside world

The Gaddafi regime is criticized for indiscriminate attacks on rebel-controlled cities, which are infested with rockets and grenades.

Provisional government is formed

February 27th

The National Transitional Council is formed in Benghazi. Gaddafi’s former Minister of Justice, Mustafa Abdeljalil, from al-Bayda is appointed as chairman of the council.

The UN acts against the regime

February 26th

The Security Council issues a resolution condemning violence against civilians and imposing sanctions on leading members of the government as well as an arms embargo on the entire country. The issue of war crimes is referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Gaddafi threatens

February 22

Gaddafi gives a confused and threatening speech on TV, where he says the uprising should be crushed.

Growing violence

Over 200 die in a few days of clashes, especially in Benghazi. Soon, regime opponents have taken control of the city, supported by soldiers who desert.

“Day of Wrath”

February 17th

Libya rallies to protest in several parts of the country, following calls from exile dissidents and network activists. The day will be considered the start of the uprising in Libya. About 20 people are killed.

Unrest in Benghazi

February 15

The so-called Arab Spring reaches Libya. Dozens of people are injured in clashes between security forces and protesters protesting the arrest of a known lawyer. The following day, four people are reported killed in unrest in al-Bayda.