Last updated: 13 July 2017

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2016

Unknown, many thousands

Casualties occurring in 2016

1,610 (2015: 1,004)

2016 casualties by survival outcome

145 killed; 1,465 injured (2015: 40 killed; 964 injured)

2016 casualties by device type

1 antipersonnel mine; 16 antivehicle mines; 71 unspecified mines, 6 improvised mines, 3 unexploded submunitions, 20 explosive remnants of war (ERW), and 1,493 undifferentiated mines/ERW


The Monitor identified at least 1,610 mine/ERW casualties reported for Libya for 2016. Although the ongoing conflict prevented the operation of an adequate national casualty surveillance mechanism, the 2016 casualty total included ICRC reporting on persons injured from data collected in four hospitals it supported across Libya (in Benghazi, Misrata, Sabha, and Tripoli). These hospitals admitted 1,465 injured mine/ERW casualties, including 15 women and 67 children.[1] Details of the specific incident and type of mine/ERW causing the injuries were not reported.[2]

Monitor analysis of several other sources of casualty information provided detail for 196 (145 people killed and 51 injured) mine/ERW casualties in Libya in 2016. The Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC) provided data for 32 casualties.[3] The Monitor identified another 164 casualties through the Libya Body Count and media scanning.[4]

The United Nations Support Mission to Libya’s (UNSMIL) human rights reports on civilian casualties in Libya identified 52 mine/ERW casualties. However, these statistics did not include sufficient detail to avoid duplication with other casualty data and therefore were not included in the global casualty total for 2016.[5]

UNMAS, UNSMIL, and LibMAC did not exchange information to improve the national management of casualty data.

Although LibMAC, the ICRC, and other sources collected and stored available information on casualties, there was no functional comprehensive national data collection mechanism for Libya.[6] It is therefore likely that casualties went underreported. Moreover, Handicap International, which provided most of the data for 2015 (935 casualties), was unable to collect data in 2016.[7]

Of the 196 casualties for which other details were available, 145 were killed and 51 were injured. The majority, 109 were male, and four were female.[8] Where known, 61 casualties were adults (59 men and two women) and 29 were children (20 boys, one girl, and eight unknown).[9] Forty-seven casualties were reported to be military/combatants, and 47 were reported to be civilian.[10]

Forty-eight percent (94) of the casualties for which information is available were caused by mines. One was caused by an antipersonnel mine, 16 by antivehicle mines, 71 by unspecified mines, and six by improvised mines.[11] Three casualties were caused by unexploded submunitions, and 20 by other ERW. Seventy-nine were caused by undifferentiated mines/ERW.

The 1,610 casualties identified in 2016 represents an increase from the 1,004 casualties identified in 2015. The 2015 and 2016 figures are both significant increases on the 10 casualties identified in 2014. 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.[12] It is likely that many more casualties occurred. 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.[13] 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.[14]

Cluster munition casualties

The total number of cluster munition casualties in Libya is not known. Three casualties from unexploded cluster submunitions were reported in 2016. No casualties from unexploded submunitions or cluster munition attacks were reported in 2015, and one casualty from a submunition was identified in 2014. There were unconfirmed reports of unexploded submunition casualties in 2011.

It is possible that some unexploded submunition casualties were reported as mine/ERW casualties, due to a lack of disaggregated data or because it was not possible to distinguish the specific types of explosive remnants that caused those casualties.

There was no available information on cluster munition casualties during cluster munition attacks in Libya.

[1] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016 ,” Geneva, May 2017, pp. 154 and 156.

[2] In addition, while it is possible that some wounded patients did not survive it is likely that the majority of those injured casualties survived.

[3] Email from Abdullatif Abujarida, IMSMA Manager, LibMAC, 11 May 2017.

[4] Monitor media scanning for calendar year 2016; and Libya Body Count data, extracted 15 June 2017.

[5]Human Rights Report on Civilian Casualties,” UNSMIL, Monthly Reports, January–December 2016. UNSMIL describes its methodology, “The figures for civilian casualties…only include persons killed or injured in the course of hostilities and who were not directly participating in the hostilities…The figures are based on information UNSMIL has gathered and cross-checked from a broad range of sources in Libya, including human rights defenders, civil society, current and former officials, employees of local governments, community leaders and members, witnesses, others directly affected and media reports. In order to assess the credibility of information obtained, where possible, UNSMIL reviewed documentary information, including medical records, forensic reports and photographic evidence.”

[6] Email from Lyuba Guerassimova, Programme Officer, UNMAS Libya, 15 June 2017.

[7] Email from Catherine Smith, Handicap International, 23 March 2017.

[8] For 83 casualties the gender was not known.

[9] For 106 casualties the age group was not known.

[10] The civil status of 102 casualties is unknown.

[11] Of the six improvised mine casualties, three were caused by stepping on the device, indicating antipersonnel improvised mines. The remaining three were military personnel “tampering with” or manipulating the device, therefore there remains a possibility that the devices were unexploded command-detonated IEDs, and as such may have been ERW.

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

[13] 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.

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