About 100,000 people have fled fighting near the Libyan capital Tripoli in the past three weeks, adding to a growing problem of internal displacement, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.
“With fighting among rival armed groups intensifying in a number of areas of Libya, we are seeing growing displacement, now estimated at 287,000 people in 29 cities and towns countrywide,” UNHCR said in a statement.
The main area of recent displacement was around Warshefana, a suburb of Tripoli, while another 15,000 had fled from fighting around the Benina area outside Benghazi, it said.
Most displaced people were living with local families but others were sleeping in schools, parks and non-residential buildings converted into emergency shelters.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said it was hard to get access and information and it was not clear if the displaced people would be able to return home soon, but many local communities were unable to cope with the influx.
One town, Ajaylat, 80 km (50 miles) west of Tripoli, had a population of 100,000 but was hosting 16,000 refugees, and its health service was struggling to cope, UNHCR said.