Handicap International is sending an emergency team to Libya to educate its population about the danger posed by landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
This mission is in response to an emergency evaluation conducted in Libya to assess the risk of landmines. The persistent danger posed by these weapons in Libya is particularly noteworthy today, April 4, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
The emergency evaluation mission, conducted between March 15 and 23, gathered consistent reports on the presence of large numbers of explosive remnants of war (artillery shells and mortars, rockets, missiles, landmines and unexploded grenades). On March 30, Human Rights Watch confirmed the use of anti-personnel mines by Libyan government forces, which threatens the security of the civilian population. Two days earlier, 24 anti-vehicle mines and 30 to 40 anti-personnel mines were found near Ajdabiya—a town of 100,000 inhabitants that was occupied by Libyan government forces between March 17 and 27.
Prior to this discovery, anti-vehicle mines were found by local residents near Ghar Yunis University in Benghazi, and the United Nations have also located 12 warehouses in Benghazi containing tens of thousands of anti-vehicle mines.
Before the current conflict, Libya was already contaminated by large numbers of mines left over from the Second World War. Major demining operations will be necessary at the end of the current hostilities. The United Nations is launching an appeal today for the universalization of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Libya is one of only 37 States, including the United States, still refusing to ban these deadly and indiscriminate weapons.
Handicap International remains vigilant in addressing these urgent concerns and needs of the Libyan people, as well as those in developing countries around the world.