More than 1 million explosive remnants of war (ERW) and approximately 54 tonnes of small arms ammunition have been cleared in Libya since 2011.
Since 2016, more than 91,000 explosive items have been destroyed or safely stored through Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) spot tasks and more than 265,000 people received Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE), including 173,979 children and 91,188 adults, to help them live more safely with the threat of ERW. In addition, UNMAS provided risk awareness training to 250 UN staff since 2019 to increase knowledge and promote safe behaviour.
Since 2015, UNMAS Libya has developed the capacity of more than 289 nationals in all aspects of mine action.
UNMAS deployed to Libya in March 2011 and was integrated into the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) as the Arms and Ammunition Advisory Section in July 2012. When major hostilities resumed between rival factions in 2014 and again in April 2019, the UN temporarily relocated many staff members to Tunisia. Following the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in October 2020, most UN personnel returned to Libya. During temporary periods of operations from Tunisia, UNMAS continued to manage its operational activities and coordination support remotely and with its national staff and partners in Libya.
Numerous conflicts, the most recent one commencing in April 2019, have exacerbated the level of ERW contamination and ammunition management issues. More than 3 million square meters of land in southern Tripoli have recently been designated as “suspected hazardous areas” or “confirmed hazardous areas”. The use of heavy weapons in urban centres has resulted in widespread damage to homes, marketplaces, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure. It also hinders access for humanitarian and early recovery workers and the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The number of IDPs is estimated to be 212,593 and there is little prospect of safe return until non-technical and/or technical surveys, EOD spot tasks, and/or battle area clearance are carried out. UNMAS activities contribute to the implementation of the 23 October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement, humanitarian operations, stabilisation activities, reconciliation, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
UNMAS support continues to be important to assist communities, UNSMIL, and humanitarian partners in mitigating the threat from explosive devices. UNMAS contributes to the achievement of UNSMIL mandated objectives and those of the Humanitarian Country Team and the UN Country Team.
Activities are aligned in three pillars and contribute to the implementation of the UN Mine Action Strategy 2019-23 and the UNMAS Libya Country Programme Strategy 2020-21:
Protection of Civilians
ERW contamination is severe in some urban areas, impacting civilians even after conflict abates. UNSMIL reports in 2020 noted dramatic increases in civilian casualties from the conflict. Ground fighting was the leading cause, followed by ERW. The presence of ERW threatens lives, impedes the safe return of IDPs, and impedes access for humanitarian actors to provide or restore basic services. UNMAS works with partners to mitigate the threat posed by ERW by engaging with Libyan authorities to implement activities and to facilitate coordination with stakeholders. UNMAS and partners provide EOD response, EORE, and non-technical surveys in various locations including Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte, Misrata, and Tawergha to facilitate humanitarian activities, early recovery, and to prepare for the safe return of displaced people. In addition, UNMAS conducted workshops and research on victim assistance to provide strategic guidance for future engagement. In 2021, UNMAS provided technical support and coordination for the ERW clearance of the coastal road between Abugrein and the Sirte area to facilitate the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement.
Arms and Ammunition Advisory Role
Unsafe and insecure storage of arms and ammunition, as well as their illicit proliferation, continue to pose serious challenges to security and stabilisation. As UNSMIL’s Arms and Ammunition Advisory Section, UNMAS completed the collection and disposal of approximately 200 tonnes of ERW from ammunition storage areas in Misrata in 2019; and provided technical advice, project management, and completed essential construction at a missile fuel storage site in Gharyan to prepare it for the future disposal of hazardous liquid missile fuel. To help mitigate the threat from improvised explosive devices, UNMAS trained 32 Forensic Police in Device Scene Incident Management. Building on similar previous projects, UNMAS carried out a series of trainings to empower Libyan youth to deliver small arms and light weapons risk awareness to assist in strengthening community resilience and to help reduce gender-based violence.
Capacity enhancement of national mine action actors
UNMAS prioritises the capacity enhancement of Libyan mine action actors and supports the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC) in accreditation processes for mine action organizations and facilitates coordination with international stakeholders and partners. Since 2015, UNMAS has trained over 70 National Safety Authority operators and Military Engineers in advanced EOD; trained 30 officers from eastern Libya in non-technical survey; trained 11 Air Defence officers in ammunition and chemical safety; provided advanced medical first responder training to 72 EOD operators from Benghazi; and trained several operators to address explosive ordnance threats in Sirte. UNMAS also increased capacity through the provision of EOD equipment to national actors and assisted the LibMAC in developing the Libyan Mine Action Standards which are now being implemented. UNMAS is currently enhancing capacities of the Libyan Diplomatic Police in explosive and operational threat mitigation.
UNMAS aims to support the implementation of these activities in close cooperation with local and international stakeholders and partners. UNMAS receives funding to carry out its activities from the UNSMIL Regular Budget and bilateral donors. Despite the generous support, funding shortfalls for humanitarian mine action projects and capacity building initiatives remain. UNMAS is seeking USD 2 million in 2022 to implement activities to support the ceasefire process, protection activities, and national capacity building.
Data as of September 2021