• Indigenous peoples in Libya

    Indigenous peoples in Libya

    The Tuareg and the Toubou live in the south of the country; they are generally nomadic, moving from one place to another with their livestock and living in tents. Libya voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Libya

Arabs of different origins (Egyptian, Sudanese, Tunisian, Palestinian, Bedouin, Maltese, etc.) make up the majority of the Libyan population, accounting for approximately 90%. They are followed by the Imazighen (4.7%), Westerners (1%), Indo-Pakistanis and other Asians (around 1%), Nilo-Saharans (less than 1%) and Filipinos (less than 1%). Most Arabs of Libyan origin are of mixed descent, i.e. Arab/Imazighen.

The Imazighen live in small villages in the west of Libya; they tend to identify along tribal or village lines rather than as Libyan nationals. The Tuareg and the Toubou live in the south of the country; they are generally nomadic, moving from one place to another with their livestock and living in tents.1

Libya voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

General situation

International mediation  between  the  Libyan  factions  intensified throughout 2018 without, however, culminating in any tangible results. On the ground, the split between the Cyrenaica region (in the east), under the control of Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s National Libyan Army (ANL), and the Tripolitania region (in the west) where Faïez Sarraj’s internationally-recognised “National Union” government sits, remains a gaping one. Two summits involving the main protagonists of the crisis, one in Paris in May and the other in Palermo (Italy) in November, resulted in nothing more than vague declarations of principle.

Exploiting these divisions, core groups of Islamic State (IS) again made their presence felt with a number of high-profile actions, in particular the May attack on the Election Commission, in the heart of Tripoli, where 12 people were killed and seven wounded.

By hosting a further summit in November 2018, the Italian government was seeking to play a role of diplomatic mediation but the recalcitrant attitude of Marshal Haftar threw a shadow over the meeting. The objective of holding elections was upheld but postponed until spring 2019. A “national conference” is scheduled for the spring of 2019 to prepare this electoral timeline.2

Referendum on the Constitution

A referendum on Libya’s new Constitution could take place in February 2019 if the security conditions are met, announced Mr Sayeh, President of the High National Election Commission (HNEC) on 7 December 2018. Mr Sayeh specified, however, that the Commission’s funds were “in the red” and that they would need 40 million dinars (around US$ 30 million) to conduct the process successfully. Validation of the Constitution via a referendum should open the path to legislative and presidential elections in Libya, intended to mark an end to the interminable transition period and to separate the rival camps in this oil-rich country.3

Notes and references

  1. Aménagement linguistique, Université Laval, Quebec
  2. Le Bilan du monde, Frédéric Bobin, Le Monde special edition, 2019
  3. AFP, 7 December 2018

Indigenous World 2020: Libya

The Amazigh form the Indigenous population of Libya. They are estimated to number some one million people, or more than 16% of the country’s total population.

They live in various areas of Libya in the north, east and south of the country albeit without any geographical continuity. To the west of Tripoli, on the Mediterranean coast, they live in the town of At-Wilul (Zwara) and in the Adrar Infussen (Nefoussa) mountains, on the border with Tunisia; in the southeast, on the border with Egypt, they live in the oases of Awjla, Jalu and Jakhra; in the south, the Fezzan region is traditionally Kel-Tamasheq (Tuareg) territory, including the areas of Murzuq, Sebha, Ubari, Ghat and Ghadamès. Libya’s Kel-Tamasheq are naturally linked to other Kel-Tamasheq communities living across the borders with Niger and Algeria. Tripoli is also home to a significant Amazigh community.

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Indigenous World 2019: Libya

Arabs of different origins (Egyptian, Sudanese, Tunisian, Palestinian, Bedouin, Maltese, etc.) make up the majority of the Libyan population, accounting for approximately 90%. They are followed by the Imazighen (4.7%), Westerners (1%), Indo-Pakistanis and other Asians (around 1%), Nilo-Saharans (less than 1%) and Filipinos (less than 1%). Most Arabs of Libyan origin are of mixed descent, i.e. Arab/Imazighen.

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About IWGIA

IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

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