Situation Report
Member of Free Fields Foundation (3F) demining team loading an UXO into a truck from a house on Airport Road, Tripoli (3F)
Member of Free Fields Foundation (3F) demining team loading an UXO into a truck from a house on Airport Road, Tripoli (3F)

Mine action critical to Libya's recovery

After nearly a decade of conflict and armed hostilities, numerous challenges remain for Libya’s rehabilitation and recovery needs. Since the cessation of hostilities in the second half of 2020, a drastic increase in the number of landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) accidents have been reported, affecting mainly civilians. According to the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC), 162 mine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) accidents were reported across Libya from May 2020 to March 2022, resulting in a total of 329 casualties (132 killed, 197 injured), of which the majority (76 per cent) were civilians.

Children are more vulnerable to the dangers of landmines and UXO. On 17 December, Libya's Interior Ministry confirmed the death of eight children and the injury of three other people from the same family from a UXO explosion in Al-Twebia area in the Jafara region, northwest of the country. On 22 February, two children from the same family suffered fatal injuries after a landmine exploded near their home in Ain Zara area in southern Tripoli.

To help identify the risks and dangers associated with landmines and exposure to UXOs, LibMAC works with national and international partners on awareness-raising campaigns, educating, and providing information on how to avoid or minimize exposure to these dangerous devices. LibMAC’s partner, Free Fields Foundation (3F), is one of few national NGOs working in the field of mine action in Libya and is having a significant impact. In 2021, 3F reached 15,238 direct beneficiaries with Risk Education in Greater Tripoli, Tawergha, Mizdah and Sebha; while in 2022, 3F has reached 6,845 people in Greater Tripoli, Tawergha, Sebha and Brak Shati. In total, according to LibMAC, more than 47,000 direct beneficiaries and 205,000 indirect beneficiaries were reached with Explosive Ordnance Risk Education activities in Libya in 2021.

The situation in Greater Tripoli, which was the most heavily affected area during the 2019-2020 conflict, is still of concern, but significant improvement has been noted as evidenced in the number of calls reporting the presence of UXOs. During the last six months of 2020, 3F received 1,893 calls, however, in 2021 this number decreased to 413, reflecting the progress made.

Significant contamination still exists in other parts of Libya, including Sirte, Tawergha, Derna and Benghazi, which were all affected by conflict at various times over the past decade. In addition, there are dozens of destroyed and abandoned ammunition storage depots in western and southern Libya that were bombed during the 2011 war and have never been cleared. UNMAS estimates that there are still 100,000 tonnes of ammunition under the rubble in these areas.

Despite the challenges and while there has been some significant progress made due to the dedication of national actors such as LibMAC, 3F, Libyan Peace Organization and Tawasul Demining Organization, more resources are needed, including capacity building skills of national partners, to clear contaminated areas and ensure the safety of all civilians in Libya. Attention to the southern region is also imperative, which faces limited capacity for mine action activities to clear contaminated areas, including in Sebha, Murzuq and Ubari. Further collaboration and support are also needed for the sector to ensure greater national ownership towards mine action activities.