Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 30 August 2016

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2015

Unknown, many thousands

Casualties in 2015

1,004 (2014: 10)

2015 casualties by outcome

40 killed; 964 injured (2014: 1 killed; 9 injured)

2015 casualties by device type

935 explosive remnants of war (ERW); 52 unspecified mine; 3 victim-activated IED; 14 unknown device types


In 2015, 1,004 mine/ERW casualties were identified for the State of Libya by the Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC) and through Monitor media scanning; an additional 14 casualties of unknown device type were also recorded. Age, gender and civilian status were not recorded for the majority of the reported casualties; of the 25 whose status was recorded 15 were civilians and 10 were security forces. Seven child casualties were recorded. The vast majority of the ERW casualties in the LibMAC data were recorded by Handicap International (HI) at two hospitals in Tripoli.[1] HI noted that most hospitals do not have reliable and updated databases so casualty numbers were likely underreported.[2] The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) identified two suspected antivehicle mine incidents causing five casualties, but the devices involved were not confirmed and the casualties may be included among the casualties of unspecified mine types.[3]

The 1,004 mine/ERW casualties reported in Libya in 2015 is significant increase over 2014 when only 10 mine/ERW casualties were reported for Libya. However, this large variance in annual statistics is not representative.  Due to the security situation many operators were forced to leave Libya; therefore mine/ERW casualties in 2014 went largely unrecorded. In addition, some casualty data was lost. Limited data was available in 2014 and was known to be incomplete.[4] It is likely that many more casualties occurred.

The 1,004 mine/ERW casualties identified in 2015 marks the highest annual casualty total recorded for Libya in Monitor reporting. The previous highest annual total was recorded in 2011 when 222 mine/ERW casualties were identified.

The total number of casualties over time in Libya is not known as many estimates predate the 2011 conflict. The Libyan Demining Association (LDA) and the Libyan Civil Defense Department had registered 1,852 mine casualties by the end of 2006.[5] Previous estimates were approximately 12,000, with the Libyan police reporting 11,845 casualties between 1940 and 1995 (6,749 killed; 5,096 injured) and the Libyan Jihad Center for Historical Studies reporting 12,258 (3,874 killed; 8,384 injured) between 1952 and 1975.[6]

Cluster munition casualties

The total number of cluster munition casualties in Libya is not known. No casualties from unexploded submunitions or cluster munition attacks were reported in 2015. It is possible that some cluster munition casualties were reported as ERW casualties, because it was not possible to distinguish the type of device that caused these ERW casualties.

One casualty from cluster submunitions was identified in 2014. There was no available information on casualties during cluster munition attacks that occurred in 2011. Media reports identified four casualties from unexploded submunitions between April and June 2011: three in Ajdabiya in the Al Wahat district and one in Misrata.[7] However, it was not possible to distinguish the devices that caused these casualties from other types of ERW. Two of the four reported submunition casualties, boys 10- and 15-years-old injured in Ajdabiya, were also later reported to have been injured by a hand grenade.[8] The explosive device type of the remaining two casualties could not be confirmed and were recorded as ERW casualties by LibMAC.[9]

Victim Assistance

Libya is responsible for survivors of landmines and other types of ERW. The total number of survivors is unknown. Outdated estimates ranged from 5,000 to 8,000 survivors through 1995.[10]

Victim assistance since 2009[11]

All victim assistance, especially emergency and ongoing medical care, was disrupted by the armed conflict that started in February 2011. The availability of medical care decreased in 2011 as thousands of foreign medical professionals working in Libya returned to their countries of origin, and power cuts, lack of funding, and a lack of medical supplies prevented the remaining medical professionals from responding to the increased demand for emergency care from mine/ERW survivors and other victims of the conflict.[12] International organizations responded to this disruption and assisted hospitals to resume care provided to the increasing numbers of new mine/ERW survivors. In August 2011, the Benghazi Rehabilitation Center resumed production of prosthetics and orthotics.[13]

By 2013, there were three prosthetics and orthotics service providers and two rehabilitation centers in the country. In 2013, the University of Misrata worked to set up, within the compound of the University hospital, a small physical rehabilitation center for disabled persons in the area, with the support of the ICRC.[14] Other organizations limited some activities or withdrew from the country.

No victim assistance coordination or planning was possible; national and international efforts remained focused on providing immediate relief to the large numbers of war-wounded, including mine/ERW survivors, and rebuilding the health sector.

Victim assistance in 2015

Assessing victim assistance needs

Handicap International carried out a health assessment in 2015 that surveyed 12 medical facilities in Tripoli, Gharyan, and Worshefana. The assessment documented casualties and reported on available health services. It did not specifically assess the needs of mine/ERW causalities.[15]

Victim assistance coordination

Government coordinating body/focal point

Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, and Ministry of Culture and Civil Society (MCCS)

Coordinating mechanism





On 1 December 2011, the LibMAC was established within the Ministry of Defense to manage all mine action activities in the country.[16] Responsibility for victim assistance lay with the Ministry of Health and the MCCS.[17] The Ministry of Social Affairs was primarily responsible for physical rehabilitation in Libya, although the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Martyrs, Missing and War Wounded were also active in the field of physical rehabilitation.[18] There was no national plan for victim assistance.

In 2015 Libya reported that an integrated social and economic policy in accordance with an integrated national plan that addressed the needs of persons with disabilities was necessary. The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for supervising and monitoring the operation of social care facilities, including centers and institutions for the education and training of persons with disabilities. The Ministry is also responsible for ensuring that those facilities and institutions work together to provide integrated services. The following specialized bodies coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs are responsible for the care of persons with disabilities:

  • The General Authority for the Social Security Fund
  • The Centre for Training Persons with Disabilities, Benghazi
  • The Centre for Training Persons with Disabilities, Janzur
  • The Swani Centre for Training Persons with Disabilities
  • The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities[19]

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities[20]

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2015

Ministry of Social Affairs


Managed Benghazi Rehabilitation Center

Reduced due to security situation

Ministry of Health


Managed Janzour Rehabilitation Centre in Tripoli

Basic rehabilitation services reduced due to security situation

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF)

International NGO

Emergency medical care, support to medical system and strengthening health care

Ongoing support to functioning medical centers, training of medical personnel, emergency care, security situation reduced services

International Medical Corps (IMC)

International NGO

Primary healthcare, psychological support and mental healthcare, strengthening physical rehabilitation



International Organization

War surgery training, evacuation of mine/ERW survivors and other war wounded, strengthening physical rehabilitation; providing emergency and first-level care training for members of the ICRC National Society, emergency service and hospital staff, and civil defense personnel

Ongoing though impacted by security situation


Emergency and ongoing medical care

In 2015, the ongoing violence in Libya reduced national capacity to provide emergency and ongoing medical care to mine/ERW victims and other war-injured persons. Many hospitals were closed or suffering from a lack of medicines, equipment, and experienced medical staff.[21]

Based on a “Rapid Assessment of Health Structures in Western Libya” report published in 2016, HI found that at least 40% of the health system was non-functional. Libya has both public and private facilities providing emergency and ongoing medical care. Overcrowding, obsolete equipment, lack of medical staff and supplies, damaged facilities, and insecurity limit the ability of the health sector to meet the needs of patients including mine/ERW survivors. Inaccessible public buildings also hindered access to healthcare for survivors and other persons with disabilities The majority of mine/ERW casualties were referred to the accidents and emergency section of Abu Salim Hospital in Tripoli in 2015. Tripoli Central Hospital reported receiving 600 war-injured persons including mine/ERW casualties.[22] In July 2015, only three of the seven major hospitals in Benghazi were functioning.[23]

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) supplied hospitals with medicines and trained medical staff and worked to increase medical care in eastern Libya near the front lines and in Al-Jalah hospital in Benghazi. In western Libya, MSF provided emergency care and surgical training and provided medication.[24]

Following escalated violence in the country in 2014, wounded people received treatment from 21 hospitals and 20 other facilities including Libyan Red Crescent branches and primary healthcare centers with medical supplies from the ICRC. The ICRC organized trainings on trauma management and treatment of weapons wounds for 76 surgeons, emergency-room doctors, and other medical professionals from 20 hospitals.[25] Medical conditions were under severe strain in Benghazi in 2015, with medical supplies blocked or destroyed by fighting. The Libyan Red Crescent attempted to evacuate trapped civilians, including war-injured persons, in February and March 2015, but parties to the conflict refused.[26]

Physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics

In Libya, ICRC operations were “challenged by the increasingly insecure working environment and renewed armed fighting, compounded by the existence of a general political and security vacuum.”[27] Physical rehabilitation projects suffered due to the security situation.[28]

The health system lacked capacity in physiotherapy, prosthetics and orthotics. Mobility aids provided were of low quality and many centers lacked the equipment and materials necessary to provide services. The Swani rehabilitation center, located some 30 minutes from Tripoli, was the only center providing comprehensive rehabilitation in Libya. However, it is under-utilized due to its distance from Tripoli and other major towns in the Western Mountains. The distance and the poor security situation make it especially difficult for women to access the center.[29] 

Three-quarters of the 13 health facilities surveyed by HI in and around Tripoli reported having physiotherapy services. However, only the University of Misrata had functioning prosthetic and orthotic services.[30]

After ceasing direct assistance to the Benghazi Rehabilitation Center in 2012,[31] in 2014, a building for an orthopedic workshop was constructed within the compound of Misrata University and two ICRC specialists were assigned to support the opening of the center.[32] The security situation in 2014 forced the ICRC to suspend operations at the university.[33] In 2015, the university and the ICRC resumed discussion on the project.[34]

Economic inclusion

There was no information available on economic inclusion initiatives for mine/ERW survivors in 2015.

Psychological support

There is no official budget for mental health care. Health professionals identified psychosocial support as a priority for capacity building. Strong stigma toward mental illness and treatment prevented some war-injured persons from accessing psychosocial support and mental health care.[35]

Laws and policies

Law No. 5 of 1987, on persons with disabilities, remained in effect in 2015.  The law provides for persons with disabilities rights to shelter; subsidized housing services; reimbursable assistive equipment; education; therapy or rehabilitation; suitable work for those who have received rehabilitation; follow-up for those who are working; tax relief for the self-employed; access to facilities for the use of public transport; customs exemptions for items that they must import because of their disabilities; and facilitated access to public spaces.[36]

The 2011 Constitutional Declaration addresses the rights of persons with disabilities and requires the state to provide monetary and other types of social assistance, but does not explicitly prohibit discrimination. In 2015, the government did not effectively enforce these provisions. Few public buildings were accessible to persons with disabilities, resulting in restricted access to employment, education, and healthcare.[37] The draft constitution of April 2016 includes a specific article (Article 69) on the rights of persons with disabilities. The article commits Libya to guaranteeing the health, social, educational, economic, political, sports and entertainment rights of persons with disability on an equal basis with others and to make facilities accessible.[38]

Article 1 of Law 4 of 2013, related to persons with disabilities “from the liberation battle,” created a new category of persons with disability for those who sustained permanent impairments while fighting for the 2011 uprising and against the previous regime and also for those persons who sustained injuries as civilians from attacks by that regime. This new category received more benefits as compared to other persons with disabilities. The NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya noted that the disparity “highlights inequality in the treatment of people with disabilities as well as discriminating between them on the basis of political association.”[39]

Libya signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 1 May 2008. In 2015, on the occasion of Libya’s human rights Universal Periodic Review, it was reported that persons with disabilities in Libya had experienced “little to no progress in relation to their rights and treatment” since the previous review. Libya has taken few practical steps to integrate persons with disabilities into society, to improve education materials, or to adopt measures to reduce costs and thereby make transportation or education more affordable for persons with disabilities.[40]

[1] Monitor analysis of casualty data provided by Abdullatif H.M. Abujarida, IMSMA Manager, LibMAC, 23 May 2016 and Monitor media scanning for 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2015.

[2] Identification of the cause of injury was carried out by the hospitals and some casualties recorded as caused by mines/ERW may have been casualties of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Email from Anne Barthes, Handicap International (HI), 26 May 2016. Not enough detail was available to classify explosive devices as either victim- or command-detonated IEDs in LibMAC casualty data. An additional 340 IED casualties were recorded in the LibMAC data including 62 casualties of emplaced IEDs with the remainder caused by person-detonated (suicide bombers) and vehicle-borne (car/truck bombs) IEDs. These casualties were not included in the Monitor total of mine/ERW casualties for 2015. Emails from Abdullatif H.M. Abujarida, IMSMA Manager, LibMAC, 23 May 2016 and 30 May 2016.

[3] Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), “Anti-Vehicle Mine Incidents Map”; and casualty data provided by email from Ursign Hofmann, Policy Advisor, GICHD, 11 July 2016.

[4] See, for example, “Libya insecurity forces aid workers to leave,” The Guardian, 10 August 2014; email from Catherine Smith, HI, 31 March 2015. Monitor analysis of casualty data provided by Bridget Forster, Senior Programme Officer, UNMAS, 17 March 2015.

[5] Prior to February 2011, the LDA had been part of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) and was known as the Anti-Mines Association.

[6] Ahmed Besharah, “World War II mines planted in Libya and its socio-economic impact,” Libyan Jihad Center for Historical Studies, Tripoli, 1995, p. 153.

[7] UNICEF, “Libya: Protecting children from unexploded ordnance,” Misrata, 6 June 2011; Ruth Sherlock, “Unlucky camel finds Libya’s largest minefield,” Al Jazeera, 28 June 2011; email from James Wheeler, Photographer, 10 August 2011; and UNICEF, “UNICEF Situation Report # 19 - Sub-regional Libya crisis,” 29 June 2011.

[8] UNICEF, “Libya: Protecting children from unexploded ordnance,” Misrata, 6 June 2011.

[9] Casualty data provided via emails from Abdulmonem Alaiwan, LibMAC, 17 June 2012; and from Jennifer Reeves, ICRC, 16 July 2012.

[10] Ahmed Besharah, “World War II mines planted in Libya and its socio-economic impact,” Libyan Jihad Center for Historical Studies, Tripoli, 1995, p. 153.

[11] See previous Libya country profiles available on the Monitor website.

[12]Overstretched health service needs sustained support,” IRIN News (Benghazi), 1 September 2011; and WHO, “Libya Crisis Update,” August 2011.

[13] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP), “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, September 2014.

[14] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, September 2014; and ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, May 2014, pp. 165 and 167.

[15] Email from Anne Barths, Handicap International Libya, 26 May 2016.

[16] UNMAS, “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” undated.

[17] Email from Abdulmonem Alaiwan, LibMAC, 17 June 2012.

[18] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, September 2014.

[19] Libya, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21, 5 May 2015, A/HRC/WG.6/22/LBY/1, p.15.

[20] Following the start of conflict in February 2011, numerous international organizations began providing humanitarian relief to the Libyan population. The organizations listed here are those whose response included a focus on the care and rehabilitation of injuries from explosive weapons such as mines and ERW. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), “International Activity Report 2013 – Libya,” 31 December 2013; MSF, “Libya: The challenge of medical aid,”1 July 2015; MSF, “Libya: 2014 Activity Report,” undated; MSF, “Libya: Health system in state of hidden crisis,” 17 March 2016; International Medical Corps (IMC), “Libya: ongoing response,” undated; Human Study e.V., “Where we work: Libya,” undated; ICRC, “Annual Report 2015,” Geneva, May 2016, pp. 165–167; and ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, September 2014.

[22] HI, “Rapid Assessment of Health Structures in Western Libya,” June 2016, pp.4-14 and 26.

[23] MSF, “Libya: The challenge of medical aid,” 1 July 2015.

[24] Ibid.

[25] ICRC, “Annual Report 2015,” Geneva, 2016, p. 165.

[26] HRW, “Libya: Civilians Trapped in Benghazi,” 25 May 2015.

[27] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, 2015, p. 39.

[28] ICRC, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, May 2015, p. 166.

[29] HI, “Rapid Assessment of Health Structures in Western Libya,” June 2016, p. 18.

[30] Ibid., p. 15 and 20.

[31] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2012,” Geneva, May 2013, pp. 25 and 37.

[32] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, September 2014.

[33] ICRC, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, May 2015, p. 166.

[34] ICRC, “Annual Report 2015,” Geneva, 2016, p. 165.

[35] HI, “Rapid Assessment of Health Structures in Western Libya,” June 2016, pp. 12-13.

[36] Libya, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21, 5 May 2015, A/HRC/WG.6/22/LBY/1, p. 15.

[37] United States Department of State, “2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Libya,” Washington, DC, 13 April 2016.

[38] HI, “Rapid Assessment of Health Structures in Western Libya,” June 2016, p. 15; Constitution Drafting Assembly “Draft Libyan Constitution,” April 2016.

[40] Ibid.