Handicap International's emergency risk education mission on mines and explosive remnants of war has been operating in Libya since last Monday.
Between March 15 and 23, Handicap International performed an initial evaluation mission in the field, which provided consistent information on the presence of a very large number of explosive remnants of war (artillery shells and mortars, rockets, missiles, landmines and unexploded grenades). Large-scale demining operations will be necessary following the end of hostilities. In the meantime, in a bid to save lives, there is an urgent need to provide information and raise the awareness of the population to the deadly risk posed by these weapons.
Three expatriate staff from Handicap International, specialists in the risks posed by unexploded devices, arrived in Benghazi, in the north of the country, on Sunday. They have begun hiring a team of some 10 Libyan staff to perform risk prevention actions targeted at the populations under threat:
- Teaching people how to identify unexploded devices and to understand the risks they run when they encounter them.
- Learning the correct action to take when faced with these weapons or any unidentified object (avoid approaching or touching them, mark the danger zone and alert Handicap International's teams in the field).
- Teaching children, who are most at risk from these weapons, life-saving reflexes.
The team will work in polluted villages on the country's north coast, from Benghazi to Ras-Lanuf, where they will use an awareness-raising kit consisting of posters and leaflets adapted to children, teenagers and adults.
Handicap International will also broadcast their awareness message by radio and television.
Libya is a tragic example that reveals how mines and explosive remnants of war still pose a very real threat.
Mines and unexploded devices continue to kill or maim one person every two hours, and children represent a third of the victims of these weapons.