The fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and Libya’s descent into chaos has led to a proliferation of arms and an escalation in fighting between militia groups. In response, Handicap International is providing the population with risk education on firearms, landmines, and explosive remnants of war. Over the last four years, the organization has taught more than 120,000 people, most of them children, how to stay safe.
Currently, ten risk educators are touring cities in western Libya, including Tripoli and Gharyan, and surrounding areas, to teach civilians about the risks posed by firearms and explosive remnants of war, and what to do when they come across them.
Although the educators visit businesses and shops, their main target is schools, because children, being naturally curious, are most likely to put themselves at risk when they find weapons or explosives. The instructors show the school children how to recognize weapons and warn them never to touch them. They also teach them how to alert responsible adults whenever they find weapons.
To ensure these messages are carried beyond Handicap International’s education sessions, the organization has trained more than 1,000 people, including teachers, health workers, and journalists, to talk to the people they come into contact with about the risks posed by weapons. In addition, the organization has handed out 280,000 leaflets, put up 36,000 posters, and distributed 51,500 children’s notebooks with weapons awareness messages printed on them.
In February 2016, Handicap International began conducting community surveys to identify areas contaminated by explosive remnants of war and mines. Teams will mark these areas to alert people to the danger.