On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that at least 130 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by landmines and abandoned or unexploded ordnance in Libya since June 2020.
It called on the Libyan government, and its international partners to intensify efforts to clear landmines in and around Tripoli.
During a March 2022 visit to Tripoli, HRW met with the Defense Ministry’s Libyan Mine Action Center. This coordinates humanitarian mine action efforts with Libyan and international civic groups working, United Nations officials, and demining specialists from the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Investigations Department. Researchers also met with officials from the Ain Zara, and Al-Fernaj districts, among the conflict’s hardest-hit areas.
Since 2019, landmines and other explosive ordnance have contaminated 720 million square meters in southern Tripoli. These have caused the deaths and displacement of thousands of residents, the mine action center reported. In addition to about 200 recorded injuries.
Officials from the government, the UN, and civic groups told HRW that, “impediments to clearing contaminated areas included fragmented governance, and insufficient coordination among government agencies and humanitarian groups.
Efforts have also been hindered by the lack of a centralized data-gathering system, inadequate capacities among some deminers, and funding shortfalls for equipment and training.”
Human Rights Watch also interviewed civilians displaced by the fighting in the Ain Zara, Salaheddin, and Qasr Bin Ghashir districts, who remained unable to return home.
HRW warned that “landmines and explosive remnants of war result not only in direct loss of life and property, but also cause reverberating harm that undermines basic human rights. Individuals who carry out serious violations of the laws of war – including use of antipersonnel mines – with criminal intent are responsible for war crimes.”