Abu Salim is one of the 12 municipalities comprising the Greater Tripoli Region and is the largest in terms of both area and population, hosting approximately 380,000 residents. Since 2011, the municipality has experienced extensive damage and destruction due to armed conflict. During the Tripoli Offensive of 2019-2020, the front lines of the conflict ran through Abu Salim, resulting in damage to service infrastructure, property and housing, and population displacement. Over 200,000 civilians have experienced displacement since the beginning of the offensive in April 2019. After the cessation of armed conflict, an estimated 80,000 people have returned to their homes in Abu Salim by May 2021.
Some municipalities in Tripoli have a higher concentration of returnees than others, including Abu Salim and Ain Zara. Since 2011, Abu Salim has served as a host to thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from several other municipalities in Libya, especially Tawergha. Of the estimated 5,700 IDPs residing in the municipality at the time of the assessment, the majority are residing in rented accommodation, while some inhabit several informal camps in the city. While data specific to migrants in Abu Salim is not readily available, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that there are 91,455 migrants in the Greater Tripoli Region, which is the highest concentration of migrants in the country.
The provision of essential services to citizens in Abu Salim has been hindered by the damage to electricity, water, education, and health care infrastructure caused by the 2019-2020 conflict. As the front lines of the recent offensive ran through the southern part of the municipality, scoping interviews revealed that Abu Salim can be characterised as two distinct areas; the northern area is urban, with a dense population and relatively better living conditions and service infrastructure, while the southern area is peri-urban, was significantly damaged by conflict, and lacks functional service infrastructure. Rehabilitation of the southern area has been complicated by the prevalence of unexploded remnants of war. Now that mine clearance operations have made important progress and tens of thousands of people have returned to the southern area, appeals to reconstruct and rehabilitate affected areas are increasing at Abu Salim faces significant damage and reconstruction needs caused by the Tripoli Offensive of 2019-2020. An area-based understanding of the conflict’s impact on the city presents an opportunity for local governance actors as well as international actors to rebuild the services and livelihoods in Abu Salim in a systematic manner, guided by data. Libyan cities should not be understood through individual sectors, but rather as complex organisations with service infrastructure that involve a range of local governance stakeholders as well as citizens. Thus, in order to develop appropriate assistance programmes, national and international actors should focus on urban spaces as unified systems instead of approaching needs assessments from a sector-by-sector basis.
This area-based assessment (ABA) aims to provide humanitarian-development-peace ‘triple nexus’ actors with information related to service delivery and living conditions in Abu Salim Tripoli, Libya. The ABAs were designed to help ‘triple nexus’ actors identify efficient entry points for supporting medium- to long-term solutions to service delivery challenges and supporting rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas. In order to achieve the objectives described previously, seven different data collection tools were deployed combining both quantitative and qualitative methods.