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Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Libya, especially Misrata and Tawergha, has been wracked by violence between rival militia and the uncontrolled influx of weapons, creating a situation of ongoing insecurity. There are incredible amounts of remnants of war that remain a threat to the population, especially in Tawergha. People are slowly starting to return to the ghost-town.
Humanity & Inclusion started its clearance operation in 2011, but the civil war interrupted our mission between 2015 and 2017. In Tawergha, since November 2019, our teams have destroyed nearly 450 items, weighing two tons. Between 2012 and 2014, Humanity & Inclusion's clearance teams destroyed 122,273 unexplored unexploded ordnance, RPGs, missiles, and ammo, leftover from the civil war. “We also destroyed WW2 mines,” says Simon Elmont, Humanity & Inclusion's EOD Field Manager in Libya.
Soon after the war ended, Humanity & Inclusion's team started providing risk education sessions to children at school and in the local mosques. Our staff explained the risks of explosive weapons of war and what to do should they spot any. "When children know what a grenade, ammunition, or an RPG look like, they are safer."
Due to heavy bombardment during the Libyan revolution, the town of Tawergha was largely abandoned. The town is heavily contaminated by all kinds of explosive weapons, including grenades, missiles, and rockets. Over the last three months, Humanity & Inclusion’s weapons specialists have removed more than 150 explosive devices from the streets of Tawargha.
Team leader Simon Elmont tells us more about the organization’s work:
HI’s team has identified and destroyed half a ton of weapons since November. Most were taken to a detonation site in the desert and blown up, but several rockets were too dangerous to move and had to be destroyed where they were found.
Our risk education teams reach out to the locals who have returned to area to make them aware of the threat posed by these bombs. We tell them that they can call us for free at any time to alert us to dangerous devices, which we then collect, defuse, or destroy.
The organization has already raised the awareness of some 1,300 people. The local population is grateful for this information and follows our guidelines—do not approach a suspicious object, do not try to move it, etc. We’re getting more and more calls, which shows they understand the dangers.
All returnees to Tawargha have attended at least one risk education session. The city council is closely involved and makes sure each returnee attends a session.
Some 600 people have returned permanently to Tawargha. Many people come back for a few days a month just to check their belongings, and then leave again. However, we expect a lot of people to return in the coming months.
Since the Libyan revolution of 2011, Tawergha, Libya has been a virtual ghost town. The streets are still strewn with explosive remnants of war—rockets, missiles, grenades, and ammunition—that pose risks to civilians. The inhabitants fled the city years ago and have been unable to return home.
However, a Humanity & Inclusion weapons clearance team has been scouring the city since early November and is systematically destroying or neutralizing explosives. As the weapons have been removed, families are beginning to return to Tawergha.
About one hundred families have moved back and others have returned to check on their property and are contemplating their next move. The start of the clearance operations has given people hope that Tawergha can be home again.
Humanity & Inclusion has set up a free hotline for local people to report the presence of suspicious devices. In its first week on the job, the clearance team removed some 40 explosive devices thanks to reports from locals.
To help protect people from explosives they may encounter as they return home, risk education staff have been going door to door to warn residents about the dangers of explosive remnants of war.
Humanity & Inclusion is committed to supporting people who are fleeing conflict and natural disaster. Whether they are sheltering within their own countries or residing in countries of first asylum as refugees, our teams are hard at work providing basic and specific aid to people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. Read about our work with refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) as well as our other projects in the 11 countries below.
This life-saving work is possible thanks to the generous support of our donors, as well as key funding agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, IKEA Foundation, among others.
Humanity & Inclusion is an impartial, international aid organization, and we act where needs are greatest. We do not work on refugee resettlement.
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