Destroying Libya’s Explosives

Over 5,500 bombs and other explosive remnants of war were destroyed in three bulk demolitions in the city of Misrata on Thursday, November 15.

The explosives included mortars, landmines, 550-pound, air-dropped bombs, and other weaponry. These were collected from the surrounding area over the course of five months. More than a year after the liberation of Libya, following the eight-month internal conflict in 2011, an abundance of abandoned and unexploded ordnance litters towns, villages and along the coast road where heavy fighting took place.

Handicap International has been working in Libya since April 2011, when emergency risk education teams deployed to the east in Benghazi, Brega, and Ajdabiya to educate community members on how to live safely among the remnants of war before clearance could take place. More than 90,000 civilians have been reached through risk education activities. Three weapons-removal teams still operate in Misrata and Sirte to decontaminate polluted areas.

"Even after eight months of clearance operations we've still not broken the back of the activity here,” says Handicap International Project Manager Paul McCullough. “We'll stay in Libya until the risks are more widely reduced, and a manageable residue is left for the authorities.”