During the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi it was under control but since he was ousted in 2011 the country has been in chaos, with rival tribes and Islamic groups vying for power. This gives every incentive to people to leave the country to escape the violence.
After the collapse of central government weapons are freely available and they are used by any group with the power or the money to buy them. When gunmen snatched Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan from his Tripoli hotel last week, it was a rival armed militia he thanked for his rescue hours later.
Tripoli has been spared much of the mayhem but Benghazi has been racked by violence, with rival militias openly carrying weapons in pick-up trucks. These rivalries mirror a struggle within Libya's fragile government, where the secular tribal alliance controls the defence ministry and the Islamist Libya Shield Force works under the interior ministry. In the midst of this violence ordinary people suffer. Some militias make money from smuggling weapons and drugs and have started trafficking refugees from the south, especially from sub-Saharan Africa. Many of them end up in migrant boats in the Mediterranean. Western diplomats fear the vast uncontrolled deserts of southern Libya will become a haven for Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda.
While the West wants to see the oil supplies brought under international control they can't intervene with civil war in the offing.
ALTHOUGH the threat of Western intervention in the Syrian civil war disappeared with the compromise deal over the handing over of Syria's chemical weapons, it is still hugely unstable. The refugee crisis has exploded from about 270,000 people last year to today's tally of more than two million who have fled in 2013.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says this makes it the worst disaster since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. An estimated 4.25 million Syrians have been displaced within their own country, sparking an internal human catastrophe and bringing the number forced to flee their homes to more than six million.
Most have gone to Turkey and Jordan which are struggling, but those with the funds to pay the inflated "fares" demanded by boatmen to take the sea.
It is not just the forces of president Bashar al-Assad causing misery. Last week, Human Rights Watch reported 190 Alawite civilians loyal to him were killed in an opposition offensive led by al-Qaeda affiliates Jabhat Nusra.
This kind of atrocity does not encourage people to stay but an international conference to resolve the crisis is not due until the end of next month. Meanwhile, fighting continues with no sign of abating.
This weekend the Syrian Army, backed by Hezbollah, is poised to launch an offensive to dislodge rebel groups from the Qalamoun region, not far from Lebanon's eastern border.
A WEEK after the al-Shabaab terrorist outrage in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on African nations to send thousands more troops to Somalia to strengthen the military campaign against the Somali militant group linked to al-Qaeda.
At present the Somali government is backed by an African Union (AU) peace-keeping army of 18,000 troops.
Now Ban wants to increase the force by up to 5000 to support 1000 front-line Somali troops.
The AU force was first deployed in Somalia in 2007 and had some success against al-Shabaab. But in recent months the Islamist movement has regrouped and attacked UN and western targets.
On June 19, al-Shabaab attacked the UN aid compound in the capital, killing eight staff and curtailing the supply of medicines and food.
The fighting has spawned a huge refugee problem. Within Somalia 1.1 million people are displaced, with 80% of them living in areas of conflict.
Kenya is home to some 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom have come from Somalia. Most live in overcrowded refugee camps such as Dadaab in the north-east.
THERE is no civil or other war in Eritrea but this small nation in the Horn of Africa is a massive exporter of refugees.
That is because president Isaias Afewerki keeps his country on a permanent war footing, with all adults obliged to serve in the 320,000-strong armed forces.
Many Eritreans find refuge in Switzerland: its policy obliges its government to give safe haven to those escaping conscription. Afewerki's paranoia has been fanned by the rivalry with neighbouring Ethiopia after a war from 1998 to 2000 claimed 70,000 lives.
There are three main routes out. One is to buy passage across the Red Sea to Yemen, then try to reach the kingdoms of the Gulf. Others head into Sudan, then across the Sahara into Egypt to take their chances in the Mediterranean or try to reach Israel.
The rest go north to Libya where they end up in camps or fall into the hands of people-traders, and if they can afford the fare they join boats across the Mediterranean.