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.
Responding to needs
Every day, a physical therapist and two psychosocial workers comb the internally displaced persons’ camps and areas around Tripoli, where displaced people sometimes live with host families. The Handicap International mobile team identifies people with disabilities, giving priority to children. Twenty-seven individuals received rehabilitation care this past month, and 50 people–including 33 children–have been referred to the nearest health centers for psychological or rehabilitation care.Read more
Handicap International has been working in Libya since 2011 after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Due to the country’s extreme instability, the organization relocated its regional headquarters to Tunisia in July 2014. However, Handicap International continues to operate inside Libya via mobile teams. Anne Barthès, who has been leading the mission since February 2016, recently took time to reflect on Handicap International's current work:Read more
April 3, 2016 marks the third anniversary of the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an agreement that regulates the trade of conventional weapons. The Treaty aims to prevent arms from being used to commit acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, or other war crimes. This is an important step in the fight against weapons proliferation. Handicap International advocates for governments to adopt and enforce the treaty as part of its mission to protect civilians.Read more
In Libya, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Handicap International’s overall response to the ongoing crisis in Libya works to increase protection of the most vulnerable, including internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees, and those exposed and impacted by the high level of contamination of explosive weapons. The organization is providing basic medical assistance, including rehabilitation care while also supporting local health and rehabilitation centers. Humanity & Inclusion currently employs 17 local staff in Libya.
Handicap International has been working in Libya since March 2011. Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Libya has been wracked by violence between rival militia and the uncontrolled influx of weapons, creating a situation of ongoing insecurity. Main challenges now lie in the country's ability to implement a peace process and ensure the rehabilitation and stability of its institutions. Additionally, large numbers of landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive devices were used in Libya and tons of weapons still lay scattered throughout the country, posing a grave risk to civilians. During the fighting, many small arms and light weapons became accessible to the civilian population, and subsequent armed violence and weapons-related accidents have caused numerous deaths and injuries. According to UNHCR, as of July 2017, Libya is home to more than 435,000 IDPs and 9,300 refugees.
Protecting Vulnerable Populations
Handicap International has deployed a mobile team to identify the most vulnerable displaced people, especially children and people with disabilities in need of medical care. Individuals are provided with rehabilitation and psychosocial support directly by Handicap International or are referred to nearby health centers. Handicap International also supports 11 health centers, trains staff, distributes orthopedic devices and provides information to medical staff and patients.
Handicap International's previous actions in Libya have included:
Three teams were deployed in Tripoli, working primarily in the districts most affected by the fighting to identify, remove, and destroy mines and other explosive remnants of war. The teams identified, destroyed or secured more than 5,000 dangerous objects.
Mine Risk Education
Since the start of its operations, Handicap International has trained 900 Libyan nationals to educate communities about the risks posed by landmines and other unexploded remnants of war.
Handicap International’s teams and its partners work directly in schools and businesses, and with local authorities. More than 93,000 people have attended awareness sessions.
Small Arms Risk Awareness
In addition to the danger of landmines and unexploded ordnance, Handicap International has identified the risk posed by light weapons in the hands of civilians who do not know how to handle them. With the support of local partners, the organization is focusing its activities on risk education.
Awareness-raising teams deliver prevention messages in schools and workplaces, working in collaboration with the authorities and local organizations. Since 2011, Handicap International has distributed 240,000 leaflets to at-risk populations (51,500 of which reached children), and posted 30,000 billboards in towns where these weapons are particularly widespread. And 110,000 people, for the most part children, have attended awareness-raising sessions.
The project did experience a six-month suspension of work due to safety concerns, but restarted operations again in February 2015.