Libyan Coastal Waters

General Situation in Libya 

The overall situation in Libya can be considered as almost stable compared to the violent conflicts of the past years. Efforts carried out by inter alia the United Nations seem to have borne fruit as the ceasefire agreement achieved in October is still respected. The effects of this truce are visible in improvements such as the restoration of flights to all parts of Libya and the resumption of oil production and exports.

The withdrawals of fighting troops have also triggered an increase in diplomatic relations between both sides of the conflict and foreign governments. Also, a general election is planned to be held in December 2021.


Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, supports Italy in the fields of border control, surveillance and search and rescue in the Central Mediterranean through its Joint Operation Themis. This operation will continue to include search and rescue as a crucial component. The area of operations for Themis spans the waters of the Central Mediterranean.

In the year 2020 more than 33 000 migrants used the Central Mediterranean route to reach Italy. This number represents a 200 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019. In 2020, Tunisia and Libya were the main countries of departure on the Central Mediterranean route.

Regarding the migratory flows from Libya, the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy (LCG&N) reportedly rescued over 11 000 migrants at sea. The LCG&N prevented the departure of approximately 42 percent of the migrants trying to reach Europe. According to the information provided by the migrants registered in Italy upon arrival, majority of the departures took place from the area of Zuwarah, Sabratha and Az Zawiyah in west part from Tripoli. 

At the end of December 2020, the sea corridor from Tunisia to Italy had registered the highest rising trend of any migratory corridor within Joint Operation Themis in 2020 with an increase of approximately 300 percent. The majority of Tunisian migrants organized the journey themselves by buying boats and engines from fishermen who find themselves in a difficult situation due to the country’s bad economic situation. Migrants from Tunisia are targeting mostly Lampedusa and Pantelleria.

In 2020 approximately 750 fatalities were registered on the Central Mediterranean route. This figure represents about a 40 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2019.

Migration on the Central Mediterranean route will continue to be influenced by weather conditions at sea and the involvement of Libyan and Tunisian authorities in preventing departures

Contact Details

Shipping Industry Advisor +39 06 4691 9444 (office hours) (preferred)
Joint Operation Centre +39 06 4691 9828 (24/7/365) joc_watchkeeper1@euohq.difesa.dom