Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 August 2017

Summary: Non-signatory Libya has expressed its support for the convention and interest in joining, but has not taken any steps towards accession. Libya has participated in several meetings of the convention, most recently in September 2016, and it voted in favor of a key UN resolution on the convention in December 2016.

Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported them and possess a stockpile. Cluster munitions were used during inter-militia fighting in late 2014 and early 2015 as well as in 2011 by government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. Evidence of possible use by the Libyan air force in 2016 and the first half of 2017 could not be independently verified by the Monitor.


Libya has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Libya has expressed its support for the convention and interest in joining, but has not taken any steps toward accession.[1] Previously, in September 2012, Libya informed States Parties that it was “committed” to promoting the convention.[2]

Since December 2015, the UN recognized a Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya that resulted from a UN-facilitated political process. However, the GNA’s functioning has been impaired by continued hostilities between two major factions to the political agreement that formed the GNA: the House of Representatives allied with General Khalifa Hiftar in the east of Libya, who commands the Libya National Army (LNA), and an alliance of militias known as the Libyan Dawn coalition that controls much of western Libya. In addition, numerous smaller militias also control or contest territory in certain parts of the country.

In December 2016, Libya voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[3] Libya also voted in favor of the first UNGA resolution on the convention in December 2015.[4]

Under the former government of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya participated in three regional conferences held during the 2007–2008 Oslo Process that developed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 only as an observer and did not join in the consensus adoption of the convention.[5] Libya did not attend the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.

Libya participated as an observer in the convention’s annual Meeting of States Parties in 2010, 2012–2013, and the Sixth Meeting of States Party in Geneva in September 2016. It attended the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and has participated in regional workshops on cluster munitions, most recently in Lomé, Togo, in May 2013. 

Libya has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2016.[6]

Libya is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported and stockpiles them. 

The current status and composition of Libya’s stockpiled cluster munitions is not known, including information on the types, quantities, and storage locations.Portions of the stockpile of cluster munitions may have been seized by anti-government forces and civilians in 2011, after storage facilities at arms depots were abandoned by government forces and subjected to NATO airstrikes. There has been no systematic or coordinated stockpile destruction effort by successive interim governments or international actors.

From the use of cluster munitions in recent years, it is clear that Libya has stockpiled air-dropped bombs (RBK-series bombs containing AO-1SCh and PTAB-2.5M bomblets), ground-fired munitions (MAT-120 mortar projectiles containing submunitions), and an unidentified type of submunition contained in Grad-type 122mm surface-to-surface rockets.[7] Additionally, in the past, Jane’s Information Group listed Libya as possessing KMGU dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[8]

In June 2011, Spain confirmed that it transferred a total of 1,055 MAT-120 cluster munitions containing 22,155 submunitions to Libya in 2006 and 2008.[9]


Evidence continues to emerge indicating that Libyan National Army (LNA) forces used cluster munitions in 2016 and the first half of 2017. An aviation-focused blog reported the following incidents:

  • Photographs published online in March 2016 and credited to the LNA indicate LNA forces may have used cluster munitions at least twice that month.[10]
  • A photograph reportedly taken on 15 August 2016 at Benina airbase in Benghazi shows an RBK-250–270 PTAB 2.5M cluster bomb mounted on a MiG-21 fighter aircraft.[11]
  • Photographs reportedly taken on three different days in September 2016 show RBK-250 cluster bombs being mounted on a Mi-8t helicopters and a MiG-21 aircraft of the LNA/Air Force. Reportedly these aircraft then flew sorties to the Benghazi enclave of Ganfouda.[12]
  • A photograph reportedly taken on 4 February 2017 at the Benina airbase shows at least seven RBK 250 PTAB-2.5M and RBK-250-275 AO-1SCh lying on the tarmac. The “bombing location” is listed as “Benghazi-al-Sabri.”[13]

Two videos reportedly taken at Benina airbase on 3 March 2017 show LNA technicians mounting two RBK-250 cluster bombs on two LNA aircraft that then allegedly flew sorties to Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Sidra.[14] Further evidence of cluster munition use may have gone unrecorded due to a lack of media and independent reporting from the ground.

The Monitor was not able to independently verify and confirm this evidence of possible use.

Previous use in 2014–2015

Previously, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented the LNA use of cluster bombs in Bin Jawad on or about 9 January 2015, in Bin Jawad on 18 December 2014, and in Sirte in December 2014 or the first quarter of 2015.[15] The Libyan air force admitted attacking Libya Dawn forces at both locations in early 2015, but at the time Brig. Gen. al-Jerroushi denied that forces under his command used cluster bombs.[16] 

More than two-dozen states have expressed concern over or condemned new use of cluster munitions, including eight that specifically expressed concern over the evidence of new cluster munition use in Libya.[17] The UN, ICRC, and CMC also condemned the use of cluster munitions. In March 2015, Sweden described evidence of new use of cluster munitions in Libya as a “worrisome development” and said, “Libya must join the CCM [Convention on Cluster Munitions].”[18]

In September 2016, States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions issued a joint declaration stating that they “condemn any use by any actor” and expressing deep concern at “any and all allegations, reports or documented evidence of the use of cluster munitions.”[19] Previously, in September 2015, States Parties adopted the Dubrovnik Declaration, which affirms: “We are deeply concerned by any and all allegations, reports or documented evidence of the use of cluster munitions, including in Cambodia, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine and Yemen. We condemn any use of cluster munitions by any actor.”[20]

Previous use in 2011

Government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi used three different types of cluster munitions at various locations during the 2011 conflict: MAT-120 cluster munition mortar projectiles in Misrata in April, RBK-250 PTAB-2.5M cluster bombs in Ajdabiya in March, and DPICM-like submunitions delivered by 122mm cargo rockets in the Nafusa Mountains near Jadu and Zintan on an unknown date.[21] At least 10 states and the European Union expressed concern over or condemned the use of cluster munitions in Libya in 2011.[22]

There is no evidence of cluster munition use by the countries involved in the NATO military action in in Libya in 2011, including by the United States (US) and other states that have not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In its formal response to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, NATO confirmed that it did not use cluster munitions in the Libya operation.[23] However, NATO airstrikes on ammunition storage facilities created hazards when munitions stored by Libya, including cluster munitions, were ejected into the surrounding environment.[24]

Previous use before 2010 

Libyan forces used air-delivered cluster munitions, likely RBK-series cluster bombs containing AO-1SCh and PTAB-2.5 submunitions, at various locations during its intervention in Chad during the 1986–1987 conflict.[25] 

US Navy aircraft attacked Libyan ships using Mk.-20 Rockeye cluster bombs on 25 March 1986, while US Navy aircraft dropped 60 Rockeye bombs on Benina airfield on 14–15 April 1986.[26] 

In November 2009, a commercial oil company survey crew in Libya found remnants of a German World War II-era SD-2 “butterfly bomb” (an early version of a cluster bomb) and an explosive ordnance disposal expert subsequently identified six more such cluster munition remnants.[27]

[1] In October 2014, Libya informed a UN meeting that it is considering joining international treaties on conventional weapons but did not specifically mention the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Statement of Libya, UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 8 October 2014.

[2] Statement of Libya, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 12 September 2012. Notes by the CMC.

[3]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[5] At the Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions in April 2008, Libya endorsed the Livingstone Declaration, which called on African states to support the negotiation of a “total and immediate” prohibition on cluster munitions. At the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2008, Libya endorsed the Kampala Action Plan, which called on all African states to sign and ratify the convention as soon as possible. For more details on Libya’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 220–221.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 71/203, 19 December 2016. Libya voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2015.

[7] See also, HRW, “Libya: Evidence of New Cluster Bomb Use,” 15 March 2015.

[8] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 842.

[9] The transfer took place before Spain instituted a moratorium on export of cluster munitions and prior to its adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Statement of Spain, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 29 June 2011. In the statement, Spain confirmed information provided to The New York Times by the Deputy Director General for Foreign Trade of Defense Materials and Dual Use Goods, Ramon Muro Martinez, that: “One license to Lybia [sic] consisting of 5 cluster munitions for demonstration was issued in August 2006. The export took place in October 2006. There were two more licenses issued in December 2007 with a total amount of 1,050 cluster munitions. They were sent in March 2008.” C.J. Chivers, “Following Up, Part 2. Down the Rabbit Hole: Arms Exports and Qaddafi’s Cluster Bombs,” The New York Times – At War Blog, 22 June 2011.

[10] Photographs reportedly taken late on the evening of 28 March 2016 show RBK-250 cluster bombs being mounted on Mi-8T and Mi-35 helicopters at Labraq airbase in the eastern city of Beida. Arnaud Delalande, “‘Libyan airstrikes’ situation update 26–28 March 2016,” AeroHistory blog, 29 March 2016. A photograph reportedly taken late in the evening of 8 March 2016 at Benina airbase in Benghazi shows an RBK-250-275 AO-1SCh cluster bomb mounted on a Mi-8T helicopter. Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan National Army used night vision systems and RBK-250 cluster bombs on its helicopters for night combat missions,” AeroHistory blog, 10 March 2016.

[12] Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan National Army still loads its Mi-8s with cluster bombs,” AeroHistory blog, 12 September 2016; Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan MiG-23ML has dropped two RBK-250s cluster bombs in Oil Crescend area today,” AeroHistory blog, 14 September 2016; and Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan CBU monitoring,” AeroHistory blog, 15 September 2016.

[13] Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan CBU monitoring,” AeroHistory blog, 9 July 2017.

[14] Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan CBU monitoring,” AeroHistory blog, 3 March 2016.

[15] Amnesty International, “Libya: Mounting evidence of war crimes in the wake of Egypt’s airstrikes,” 23 February 2015. HRW found that the good condition of the paint on the bomb casings and lack of extensive weathering indicated that the remnants had not been exposed to the environment for long and were from a recent attack. See, HRW, “Libya: Evidence of New Cluster Bomb Use,” 15 March 2015.

[16] HRW, “Libya: Evidence of New Cluster Bomb Use,” 15 March 2015.

[17] Including Austria, Burundi, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Ireland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand.

[18] SwedenArmsControl (@SweArmsControl), “Recent evidence of Cluster Munitions use in Libya HRW report shows. Worrisome development, Libya must join the CCM,” 04.39am, 16 March 2015, Tweet.

[19] See the political declaration annexed to the “Final report of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 5–7 September 2016,” CCM/MSP/2016/9, 30 September 2016.

[20]The Dubrovnik declaration 2015: Spectemur agendo (judged by our actions),” annexed to the Final Report of the First Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, CCM/CONF/2015/7, 13 October 2015.

[21] See, ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Libya: Cluster Munition Ban Policy,” 17 December 2012.

[22] The Monitor has recorded national statements by Australia, Austria, Burundi, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, Iceland, Italy, Lao PDR, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

[23] NATO letter to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, 15 February 2011. Cited in UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, “Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya,” A /HRC/19/68, 2 March 2012, p. 168, para. 638.

[24] Submunitions were also ejected from ammunition storage bunkers at a military depot near the town of Mizdah, 160 kilometers south of Tripoli, which was attacked by NATO aircraft more than 50 times between April and July 2011. In March 2012, HRW visited the depot and found approximately 15 PTAB-2.5M bomblets and about three-dozen submunitions of an unidentified DPICM type. Statement by HRW, Convention on Conventional Weapons Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, Geneva, 25 April 2012.

[25] Handicap International, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 48.

[26] Daniel P. Bolger, Americans at War: 1975–1986, An Era of Violent Peace (Novato, CA.: Presidio Press, 1988), p. 423.

[27] Daily report by Jan-Ole Robertz, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Advisor, Countermine Libya, 27 November 2009.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 23 October 2017


The State of Libya has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

In October 2016, a representative of Libya said that Libya “shares the international community’s concerns, especially its humanitarian concerns, regarding anti-personnel mines in the light of their extremely destructive effects in humanitarian terms, their environmental impact and the obstacles they pose to development. We suffer from mines and explosives that have remained on our territory since the Second World War. While we believe that the Convention plays a positive role in limiting the use of mines, we stress once again that the Convention ignores the damage done to the countries that have been affected by mines, in particular those that have been a theatre of war for other countries. It also ignores the colonial Powers that planted the mines and that should remove or demine those territories at their own expense.”[1]

Previously, in October 2011, two Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials informed the ICBL that there was support for joining the Mine Ban Treaty, but that the matter must wait until the new government was established and for the legislative body to consider accession.[2] Libya’s signature of the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty on 9 July 2013 indicated that the government is ready to join international treaties.

On 5 December 2016, Libya voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 71/34 supporting the universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. This was the fourth year in a row that Libya had voted in favor of the pro-Mine Ban Treaty resolution, after consistently abstaining from the annual resolution since 1998. The change came after outreach by the ICBL, including Human Rights Watch (HRW).[3]

Prior to being removed from office in 2011, the government of Muammar Gaddafi showed interest in the Mine Ban Treaty but made no effort to join it; Libyan officials often criticized the treaty and called for it to be revised.[4] On 28 April 2011, the National Transitional Council (NTC), then the opposition authority in Libya, issued a statement formally pledging that “no forces under the command and control of the [NTC] will use antipersonnel or anti-vehicle landmines.” The statement also said that “any future Libyan government should relinquish landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.”[5] The current, UN-recognized Government of National Accord voiced similar concerns in its 2016 Explanation of Vote.[6]

Despite not joining the Mine Ban Treaty, Libya has participated as an observer in many of the treaty’s Meetings of States Parties as well as the first and third Review Conferences.[7] Libya last attended as an observer the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November–December 2015, but did not make any statements. Previously, it has also attended intersessional meetings of the treaty in Geneva, but not in June 2017.

Libya is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is also not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production, trade, and stockpiling

As the Gaddafi government progressively lost control of the country in 2011, massive weapon depots containing landmines and other munitions were abandoned by government forces and left unsecured.[8] Local and international mine action organizations have worked with Libyan authorities and the UN since mid-2011 to collect and destroy abandoned ordnance, but it is unclear how many landmines were removed by anti-government rebels, civilians, and others.

Prior to 2011, Libya consistently stated that it had never produced or exported antipersonnel mines and that it no longer stockpiled the weapon.[9] Yet abundant evidence subsequently emerged showing how Libya accumulated a stockpile of hundreds of thousands of antipersonnel and antivehicle mines under Gaddafi’s leadership, and that his forces used tens of thousands of these mines during the 2011 conflict.

In December 2016, Chinese-made Type 84 scatterable antivehicle mines appeared in Benghazi in the possession of the Libyan National Army. Mine marking indicated they were manufactured in 2009. Use of this mine was first reported in 2011. Although this mine is designed as an anti-vehicle mine, it is equipped with a sensitive magnetic influence fuze that can function as an anti-disturbance fuze.[10]

The post-Gaddafi government in Libya began to destroy landmine stocks in early 2012, but no information is available on the numbers or types of landmines destroyed and it is still not clear if systematic stockpile destruction efforts are being undertaken as of October 2017.[11]


Previously, in September 2014, reports emerged alleging new use of antipersonnel mines at Tripoli International Airport, which saw fighting in July–August between the Zintan alliance of militia groups and forces of the Libya Dawn Alliance.[12] A HRW investigation found that antipersonnel mines were likely laid in 2014 and not earlier, but could not determine the party responsible for the use.[13] On 29 October, HRW spoke by telephone with the commander of the Misrata Revolutionaries engineering unit within the Libya Dawn Alliance, which had been responsible for clearing landmines and other unexploded ordnance in Tripoli since August. The commander said that on 24 August, the day of the airport takeover, his unit had discovered a mined area of the airport.[14] He said a pickup truck mounted with anti-aircraft weapons entered the “old airport area” and detonated a mine, killing one fighter from the Misrata Umm al-Maarek brigade, Mohamed Abubaker Ali, and wounding several others.

In September 2015, there was an allegation that forces of Ansar al-Sharia—an armed Salafist Islamist militia group—were responsible for a landmine incident near Benina district in Benghazi, but it was not possible to verify the circumstances of the incident or if an antipersonnel mine was responsible.[15]

In August 2016, an allegation surfaced that Islamic State (IS) militants laid landmines sometime prior to being forced out of Derna in eastern Libya in mid-2015. The Monitor is not in a position to verify the allegation.[16] According to media reports, IS militants laid landmines and victim-activated explosive devices around Sirte.[17]

Previous use

HRW confirmed the use of five types of mines in six separate locations by pro-Gaddafi forces during the 2011 conflict, first in the east of the country, then in the Nafusa mountain range in the northwest, and finally around Tripoli and coastal towns in the west. This included the use of low-metal content antipersonnel mines that are particularly challenging for detection and clearance efforts, such as the Brazilian T-AB-1 mine.[18] Three types of mines were also found abandoned at three other locations.

Mine types identified in Libya during the 2011 conflict



Country of production

Location used/User




Used by government forces in Ajdabiya, Khusha, Misrata, and al-Qawalish (three separate locations)




Used by government forces in Ajdabiya, and al-Qawalis; abandoned stockpiles in Tripoli




Used by government forces in Misrata




Abandoned stockpiles in Benghazi



Former Czechoslovakia

Abandoned stockpiles in Benghazi

PRB-M3 and




Used by rebels in Ajdabiya; abandoned in storage in Benghazi




Abandoned stockpiles in Ajdabiya and Tripoli




Abandoned stockpiles in Tripoli


Prior to 2011, Libya last used antipersonnel mines during its 1980–1987 war with Chad. Libya is contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance from World War II, as well as from wars with Egypt (1977) and Chad (1980–1987). Minefields are said to exist in desert, port, and urban areas; however, no nationwide survey has ever been conducted. Previously, some facilities were protected by minefields, such as an ammunition storage area outside of Ajdabiya that HRW then confirmed was partially surrounded by a minefield marked solely by a deteriorating fence.[19]

[1] Libya, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.7/Rev.1, 71st Session, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 31 October 2016, Official Records, A/C.1/71/PV.24, pp. 27–28/35.

[2] ICBL meeting with El-Mahdi El-Maghreby, Director, International Organizations, and Salaheddin El Mesalati, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Libya, in New York, 18 October 2011.

[3] See, for example, HRW, Letter to Ambassador Ibrahim O. Dabbashi of Libya, 8 October 2014.

[4] For example, in September 2010 Libya stated: “anti-personnel mines are a weapon that the vulnerable States use to defend their territories against invading forces. The powerful States do not even need to use them since they possess arsenals of advanced Weapons. In this framework, the [Mine Ban Treaty] should be amended, taking into account the interests of the small States. The legislators of this convention should have made the States concerned committed to compensate those affected by mines planted in their lands and to provide legal and political assurances for the protection of small States due to the lack of possession of neither defensive nor offensive weapons.” Statement by Musa Abdussalam Kousa, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, UNGA General Debate, New York, 28 September 2010.

[5] HRW Press Release, “Libya: Rebels Pledge Not to Use Landmines,” 29 April 2011.

[6] Libya, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.7/Rev.1, 71st Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 31 October 2016, UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/71/PV.24, pp. 27–28/35.

[7] It was absent from the Meetings of States Parties held in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, and the Second Review Conference in 2009.

[8] This included the 60-bunker Hight Razma facility near Benghazi, a 35-bunker facility near Ajdabiya, and a smaller facility near Tobruk. In September 2011, HRW visited in a Khamis Brigade base in the Salahadin neighborhood of Tripoli that included a farm compound holding approximately 15,000 antipersonnel mines and a nearby storage facility housing more than 100,000 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines. HRW, “Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note,” 19 July 2011; and HRW, “Libya: Secure Unguarded Arms Depots,” 9 September 2011.

[9] Interview with Col. Ali Alahrash, Ministry of Defense, Geneva, 16 March 2004.

[10] Arnaud Delalande, “Terrific — Libyan Militants Now Have Deadly Chinese Landmines,” War is Boring, 16 January 2017. In April 2014, reports had emerged showing the use in Syria of the Chinese-made Type 84 scatterable antivehicle mine that was first reported used in 2011 in Libya, but it was not possible to ascertain if the mines used in Syria were from the same stocks used in Libya. Mark Hiznay, “Remotely Delivered Antivehicle Mines Spotted in Syria,” Monitor Blog, 25 April 2014. In Libya, the remotely delivered “parachute mines” were delivered by surface-fired 122mm Grad-type rockets into the port area of the city of Misrata by Gaddafi forces on 5 May 2011. The markings on the mines indicated a 2009 manufacture date. These mines are equipped with a sensitive magnetic-influence fuze, which also functions as an inherent anti-disturbance feature, as well as a self-destruct mechanism that can be set for a period of four hours to three days. These characteristics pose special problems as the mines sit on the ground and complicate clearance efforts. The magnetic-influence fuze explodes the mine when it detects a change in its immediate magnetic environment, such as a vehicle passing over it or a person approaching the mine who is wearing or carrying a sufficient amount of ferrous metal, like military equipment or a camera. Additionally, given the sensitivity of the fuze, any change in orientation or movement of the mine may cause the fuze to function.

[11] HRW, “Libya: Secure Unguarded Arms Depots,” 9 September 2011. In March 2012, HRW witnessed the destruction of Type-72SP antivehicle landmines.

[12] Video footage reportedly filmed in September at Tripoli International Airport by Alnabaa—a private Libyan satellite TV network—and by Al Jazeera shows the clearance of at least 20 T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines and at least one PRB M3 antivehicle mine. Reports by both TV networks alleged that the mines were laid by the Zintani-led forces, which controlled the airport from 2011 until August 2014.

[13] HRW, “Evidence of New Landmine Use in Tripoli,” 5 November 2014. The Zintan alliance of militia groups, a coalition of militias from the inland mountain town of Zintan, controlled Tripoli Airport from the end of the 2011 until August 24, when Libya Dawn Alliance of militias from the coastal city of Misrata seized control, after five weeks of intense fighting. At the time of fighting, a Zintani force known as the Airport Security Katiba was controlling Tripoli Airport and its vicinity.

[14] The commander informed HRW that his unit has found and cleared approximately 600 landmines since 24 August, mostly T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines, from the Tripoli International airport compound.

[15]Landmine kills five children in northeast Libya,” Anadolu News Agency, 10 September 2015.

[17] See, A. Lewis, “Libya forces de-mine and clear Sirte after liberation from Isis militants,” The Independent, 11 August 2016; Sudarsan Raghavan, “Even with U.S. airstrikes, a struggle to oust ISIS from Libyan stronghold,” Washington Post, 7 August 2016; and “A Sirte girl undergoes a massive 17-hour operation for landmine injuries,” The Libya Observer, 29 May 2016.

[18] Brazil has declared in its Article 7 reports that production and exports of T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines ceased in 1989, even before Brazil joined the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. There is no export record of the shipments because arms export records are not held for longer than 10 years. An internal investigation was opened into the origins and transfer of the T-AB-1 mines to Libya. HRW meeting with Brazilian delegation to Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011.

Mine Action

Last updated: 21 November 2017

Contaminated by: landmines (extent unknown), cluster munition remnants (extent unknown), other unexploded ordnance (UXO), and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including improvised mines.

Not a signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Cluster Munitions


The extent of contamination by landmines, cluster munition remnants, IEDs, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) is not known. In 2016, non-technical survey of recent confrontation areas was conducted by national clearance operators, with the support of international operators. A total of 479km2 of suspected hazardous area (SHA) and 235km2 of confirmed hazardous area (CHA) was identified in 2016. Clearance was reportedly conducted by army engineers, police, the National Safety Authority (NSA) and volunteers, but not in accordance with international standards and without providing reports to the Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC). In December 2016, national NGO Free Fields Foundation began spot explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) tasks in Tripoli.

Recommendations for action

  • Libya should immediately take further steps to facilitate access to contaminated areas for humanitarian mine action actors and develop national capacity to conduct mine action, with the support of international actors.
  • As soon as political conditions permit, Libya should enact mine action legislation, establish a national mine action authority, and adopt a national mine action strategy.
  • As soon as security conditions permit, Libya should conduct survey to identify the extent of mine, cluster munition remnant, and other UXO contamination.

Mine Contamination

Libya is contaminated with mines but no national survey has been conducted to determine the extent. Contamination dates back to the desert battles of World War II and conflicts with Egypt in 1977 and Chad in 1980−1987, which resulted in mines being laid on those borders. The border with Tunisia is also affected. During Colonel Muammur Qaddafi’s four decades in power, mines were emplaced around a number of locations, including military facilities and key infrastructure.[1]

Mines were used by both sides in the 2011 conflict leading to Colonel Qaddafi’s overthrow. The only confirmed instance of landmine use by rebels occurred in Ajdabiya, but other locations where pro-government elements laid mines included Brega, Khusha, Misrata, and the Nafusa mountains.[2] The escalation of conflict in Libya in 2014 brought new reports of mine use by armed groups fighting around Tripoli airport.[3] (See Mine Ban Policy profile for further details.)

The most commonly used antipersonnel mine type was the low-metal content Brazilian T-AB1 mine, but evidence has also been found of Belgian NR 413 stake and bounding fragmentation mines (PRB NR 442). Antivehicle mines used by government forces have included Chinese Type 72SP and Type 84 mines that were scattered by rockets over the port city of Misrata and Belgian PRB-M3 and PRB-M3A1 antivehicle mines, as well as minimum-metal mines. Sea mines were also used by government forces in the port of Misrata.[4]

The following table provides the data existing in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database as of February 2017. However, this is a significant underreporting of the total extent of contamination as the majority of areas have not been surveyed.

Reported mine contamination by district and city as of February 2017[5]




Area (m2)


Area (m2)








Abu Grain












Wadi Jarif

















Note: SHAs = suspected hazardous areas; CHAs = confirmed hazardous areas; 1,000,000m2 = 1km2.

Six of the known CHAs contaminated by mines, totaling 41,485,999m2 are contaminated by antipersonnel mines, and one minefield, 7,498,699m2, is contaminated by antivehicle mines. The one SHA, 222,934,834m2, is suspected to contain antivehicle mines.[6]

In 2016, a suspected minefield was also identified in Tawargha during not-technical survey, and further survey is required to confirm the hazard.[7]

New contamination was added to the problem in 2016, with improvised mines suspected to have been laid during 2016 by Islamic State (IS) in areas that they controlled, such as in Sirte.[8] In July 2017, the engineering divisions of Operation Dignity[9] continued to clear landmines and booby-traps left by IS fighters from Benghazi, but also warned civilians from attempting to return to their homes before clearance work was finished.[10]

Cluster Munition Contamination

Cluster munition contamination is the consequence of armed conflict in 2011 and in 2015 but the extent is not known. In 2011, armed forces used at least three types of cluster munitions, including the Chinese dual-purpose Type 84, which also functions as an antivehicle mine, and the Spanish MAT-120, which holds 21 submunitions. In 2012, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) reported finding Russian PTAB cluster bombs,[11] while international media reported the presence of a fourth type of cluster munition that has remained unidentified.[12] Additional contamination by cluster munition remnants occurred as a result of kick-outs from ammunition storage areas bombed by NATO forces in 2011. A small quantity has been found inside a military academy in Misrata.[13]

In 2015, cluster munitions were used during fighting between Libya’s rival governments. This included RBK-250 PTAB-2.5M bombs, in attacks on Bin Jawad near the port of Es-Sidr in February, and in the vicinity of Sirte in March. The Libyan air force, controlled by the internationally recognized government of the time, had bombed both locations but denied using cluster bombs.[14] (See Cluster Munition Ban profile for further details.)

Other explosive remnants of war, including IEDs

Ongoing conflict in 2015 and 2016 has resulted in significant ERW contamination in numerous cities across the whole of Libya, adding to the contamination that arose from the nine-month revolution in 2011 and sporadic fighting since that period.[15]

ERW has affected public infrastructure such as schools, universities, and hospitals. As of January 2017, the number of internally displaced persons in Libya is estimated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to be more than 348,000. The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) states that there is no prospect of safe return for these persons before technical and non-technical surveying, spot-tasking, and/or battle area clearance are carried out. As of January 2017, thousands of internally displaced persons were returning, and the casualty rate from IEDs and ERW was reportedly high.[16] (See the Casualties and Victim Assistance country profile for further details.)

A multi-sector needs assessment conducted in mid-2015 and updated in February 2016 found that the presence of landmines and UXO was widely reported. Forty-eight percent of respondents in the east reported the presence of landmines and UXO in their community between June 2015 and February 2016, compared with 25% of respondents in the south, and 10% of respondents in the west. This was a decrease in the number of respondents reporting the presence of landmines and UXO in mid-2015, but the reason for the change was not provided.[17] This assessment does not replace non-technical survey but offers a general indication of the perceived threat, in the absence of more accurate data at the moment.

IEDs have proliferated in Libya during 2016.[18] They are found across the country, but particularly in areas that had been occupied by IS, such as Sirte, where they are estimated to account for 15% of contamination, with the remaining 85% being UXO. Since the fighting ended, as of February 2017, an estimated 40% of the population was back in Sirte.[19] Evidence from photographs in social media and community-based informants suggest that some of the IEDs are improvised mines.[20]

The following table provides data on known UXO contamination in locations where survey has been conducted. However, it is a significant underreporting of the UXO threat in the country.

Reported UXO contamination by district and city as at February 2017[21]




Area (m2)


Area (m2)

Ash Shati






Jabal Nafusa















Al Jadid




Al Manshiya





A Nasariya

























Abu Grain





Alhay As Sanaie





Bu’ayrat al Hasun









Wadi Jarif















Note: * No polygons are recorded as these are UXO locations, only reference points and UXO location points are provided, which will require EOD spot task activity in the future; 1,000,000m2 = 1km2.

Program Management

There is no national mine action authority, policy, or strategy for Libya.

Mine action exists in a fragmented political and violent context. Following years of conflict, a new UN-backed “unity” government, the Government of National Accord (GNA), was installed in a naval base in Tripoli in early 2016. As of February 2017, it continued to face opposition from two rival governments and a host of militias.[22]

The Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC) was mandated by the Minister of Defense to coordinate mine action in December 2011. As of March 2017, it was operating under the UN-backed GNA. Its headquarters are in Tripoli, in the west. In 2015 and 2016, it did not have an office in east Libya, however it coordinated with institutions in Benghazi, and in April 2016, a regional operations manager was appointed for the east.[23] In July 2016, LibMAC also established a small office in Misrata.[24] The operating costs and salaries for LibMAC are funded by the United States (US) State Department and administered by ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF). In 2016, ITF supported the chief of operations to attend a senior management training course at James Madison University.[25]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ National Program for Demining and Rehabilitation of Lands was set up in 2004 and revived by the ministry after the change of regime.[26] However, there were no reports of its activities in 2015 and 2016.

The deteriorating security situation resulted in the withdrawal of UNMAS and international mine action operators from Libya in mid-2014. UNMAS has been operating from Tunis since November 2014, from where it supports mine action in Libya, through training and advice to LibMAC and coordination of the international mine action response.[27] Monthly implementation partner meetings are held in Tunis.[28]

In 2016, UNMAS and other international mine action operators continued to focus their efforts on capacity-building and training of national actors. In 2016, UNMAS provided training in humanitarian mine action, IMSMA, non-technical survey, medical training, and quality management to LibMAC and national operators.[29] International NGOs also provided capacity-building and training to their national partners (see the Operators section below).

LibMAC describes the following challenges to implementation: the high level of contamination; ongoing conflict and the continued presence of the IS; the difficulty in convincing internally displaced persons to delay their return until the ERW threat is addressed; security and access to priority areas continues to be problematic; limited ERW and IED disposal capacity in Libya; the vast geographical area; and, the shortfall in governmental and international support.[30]

Standards, quality management, and information management

National standards in English and Arabic developed with the support of UNMAS were expected to be finalized and published on the LibMAC website by the end of March 2017.[31] In 2016, LibMAC conducted quality management, primarily of training courses, with the support of UNMAS.[32]

LibMAC received IMSMA technical support from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and UNMAS in 2016.[33]


Mine action operations are conducted by the army engineers, the police forensics department, and the Ministry of Interior’s National Safety Authority (NSA, also known as Civil Defense).[34] The NSA is mandated to conduct EOD in civilian areas.[35] These institutions liaise with LibMAC but are not tasked or accredited by them, and they do not provide clearance reports to LibMAC. DanChurchAid (DCA) provided training in explosive ordnance/IED awareness, non-technical survey, and EOD to individuals affiliated with these institutions. Due to the security situation, DCA managed its program from Tunis, and all training was provided outside Libya.[36]

In 2016, Danish Demining Group (DDG) was accredited to conduct risk education, non-technical survey, and EOD, and had operations in the south of Libya. By the end of 2016, it had three non-technical survey teams and one EOD team, which were mainly operating in Sabha. The national NGO Free Fields Foundation (3F) has a formal partnership with DDG for organizational development and technical capacity-building. It is accredited by LibMAC to conduct risk education. As 3F has not yet reached the standard required to conduct non-technical survey and EOD independently, it has permission to operate under DDG’s accreditation with its supervision. 3F is mentored and monitored by technical advisors remotely via Skype from Tunis. 3F is operational in the west of Libya, with two EOD teams and two non-technical survey teams.[37]

Handicap International (HI) trained two local partners in non-technical survey in 2016, Peace Organization from Zintan and World Without War from Misrata. Both organizations received accreditation for non-technical survey from LibMAC after the training. Following the training, Peace Organization conducted non-technical survey with remote management by HI from Tunis.[38]

A number of other Libyan civil society organizations also exist that reportedly conduct mine action operations, but they are not accredited by LibMAC.

LibMAC reported that the clearance by non-accredited actors, including volunteers, is problematic, as land release certificates cannot be issued.[39]

Land Release

Non-technical survey of former confrontation areas was conducted in 2016 to identify suspected and confirmed hazardous areas, but no land was released through clearance under LibMAC task orders.

Survey in 2016

In 2016, non-technical survey was conducted in Sirte municipality by LibMAC, army engineers, the police, and 3F; in Misrata municipality, including Tawergha town, by army engineers, volunteers, and 3F; in Benghazi by the NSA and army engineers; in Sabha municipality by DDG; and in Gwalish by HI’s national partners.[40]

In Benghazi, 18 SHAs for critical infrastructure development were surveyed by the police forensics department, NSA, and military engineering non-technical survey teams.[41] As of February 2017, however, no data had been approved for entry into IMSMA.[42]

Peace Organization, with HI supervision, conducted non-technical survey in Al Gwalish over an area of 148km2, identifying six CHAs (the total size of the CHAs was not specified).[43] This data has also not been approved for entry into IMSMA.[44]

Non-technical survey of mined areas, January 2016–February 2017[45]


SHAs canceled

Area canceled (m2)


SHA total area (m2)


CHA total area (m²)





















Note: SHAs = suspected hazardous areas; CHAs = confirmed hazardous areas; 1,000,000m2 = 1km2.

Non-technical survey of areas contaminated by UXO, January 2016–February 2017[46]


SHAs canceled

Area canceled (m2)


SHA total area (m2)


CHA total area (m²)






















Note: SHAs = suspected hazardous areas; CHAs = confirmed hazardous areas; 1,000,000m2 = 1km2.

The four SHAs canceled in 2016 were in Sirte; three were NATO-bombed locations.[47]

Clearance in 2016

Battle area clearance was reportedly conducted in 2016 by the national authorities and volunteer groups in several locations across the country. However, this clearance was not coordinated with LibMAC, and no land release certificates were issued.[48]

DDG started EOD operations at the end of 2016, preparing an ERW store at a police station in Sabha for UXO awaiting further disposal.[49] In 2016, DDG destroyed two items of UXO.[50] In December 2016, 3F began to conduct spot tasks in Tripoli under a general task order from LibMAC and with the supervision of DDG, destroying four items of UXO.[51] DDG and 3F use Rendsafe technology for EOD operations in Libya. The method of disposal of single UXO items was chosen because of its ease of use and of the difficulties in transporting explosives in the current security situation.[52]

Progress in 2017

The UN Development Programme (UNDP)’s stabilization unit contracted DDG, DCA, and HI in January 2017 to conduct non-technical survey and risk education to support rehabilitation of key infrastructure in Obari, Benghazi, and Kikla, respectively.[53]

As of January 2017, planning was underway for the clearance of Sirte, and once approval is given by the head of the army and Sirte Council, work will start. As of February 2017, IED disposal was not considered by LibMAC to be part of humanitarian mine action, and it is therefore foreseen that this will be undertaken by the national authorities, trained by international actors. NGOs will have a role in battle area clearance.[54]


The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (, which has conducted the mine action research in 2017, including on survey and clearance, and shared all its resulting landmine and cluster munition reports with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.


[1] Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note,” 19 July 2011.

[2] Ibid.

[3] HRW, “Libya: New evidence of landmine use,” 5 November 2014.

[4] Email from Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Officer, Joint Mine Action Coordination Team UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), Tripoli, 20 March 2012; HRW, “Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note,” 19 July 2011; Colin King, “Landmines in Libya,” Journal of Mine Action, Issue 15.3, Fall 2011; and C. J. Chivers, “Land Mines Descend on Misrata’s Port, Endangering Libyan City’s Supply Route,” New York Times, 6 May 2011.

[5] Email from Abdullatif Abujarida, IMSMA Manager, LibMAC, 20 February 2017.

[6] Ibid., and 9 March 2017.

[7] Email from Lutz Kosewsky, Operations Manager, Danish Demining Group (DDG), 23 February 2017.

[8] Ibid., 22 February 2017.

[9] Khalifa Haftar launched Operation Dignity, under his forces’ control, to take Benghazi from what he described as Islamist militants and terrorists in May 2014. See, for example, “Operation Dignity in east Libya declares full control of Benghazi,” Libyan Express, 5 July 2017.

[10]The Month in Mines,” Landmines in Africa blog, July 2017.

[11] Email from Nina Seecharan, Desk Officer for Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya, MAG, 5 March 2012.

[12] C. J. Chivers, “Name the Cluster Bomb, an Update,” New York Times, 2 February 2012.

[13] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, Director, LibMAC, in Geneva,10 January 2017.

[14] HRW, “Libya: Evidence of new cluster bomb use,” 14 March 2015.

[15] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” January 2017.

[16] Ibid.

[17] REACH, “Libya Multi-Sector Needs Assessment,” June–July 2015, p.18, and update, February 2016, p. 39. REACH is a joint initiative of two international NGOs and the UN Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT).

[18] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” January 2017.

[19] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

[20] Email from Lutz Kosewsky, DDG, 22 February 2017.

[21] Emails from Abdullatif Abujarida, LibMAC, 20 February and 2 March 2017; and skype interview, 20 March 2017.

[22]Libya Country Profile,” BBC, undated.

[23] Skype interview with Ezzedine Ata Alia, Administration Manager, LibMAC, 20 March 2017.

[24] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

[25] Email from Roman Turšič, Head of Implementation Office Libya/Afghanistan, 26 February 2017.

[26] Email from Diek Engelbrecht, Programme Manager, UNMAS Libya, 20 July 2013.

[27] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” January 2017.

[28] Implementing Partners Coordination Meeting, Tunis, 19 January 2017.

[29] Email from Lyuba Guerassimova, Programme Officer, UNMAS, 28 February 2017.

[30] PowerPoint presentation by Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, at the National Programme Director’s Meeting, Geneva, 8 February 2017.

[31] Skype interview with Ezzedine Ata Alia, LibMAC, 20 March 2017.

[32] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

[33] Email from Lyuba Guerassimova, UNMAS, 28 February 2017.

[34] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

[35] Email from Diek Engelbrecht, UNMAS Libya, 20 July 2013.

[36] Implementing Partners Coordination Meeting, Tunis, 19 January 2017.

[37] Email from Lutz Kosewsky, DDG, 22 February 2017.

[38] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 22 February 2017.

[39] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

[40] Ibid.

[41] PowerPoint presentation by Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, at the National Programme Director’s Meeting, Geneva, 8 February 2017.

[42] Email from Abdullatif Abujarida, LibMAC, 20 February 2017.

[43] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 22 February 2017.

[44] Email from Abdullatif Abujarida, LibMAC, 20 February 2017.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.; and skype interview, 20 March 2017.

[47] Email from Abdullatif Abujarida, LibMAC, 20 February 2017.

[48] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017; and skype interview with Abdullatif Abujarida, LibMAC, 20 March 2017.

[49] Email from Lutz Kosewsky, DDG, 22 February 2017.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Email from Craig Castro, Head of Stabilization Facility, UNDP, 18 February 2017.

[54] Interview with Mohammad Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 11 December 2017

In 2016, Libya received US$7.9 million in international assistance from eight donors.[1] The largest contributions were provided by the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), with a combined total of $5.8 million, representing 73% of total international assistance.

During 2014, all international demining operators as well as the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) had to withdraw from the country due to the deteriorating security situation. In January 2015, UNMAS estimated that since the escalation of violence in July 2014, an additional $30 million was required to address humanitarian mine action needs in Libya.[2]

International contributions: 2016 [3]



Amount (national currency)

Amount (US$)









United Kingdom

Clearance and risk education












Risk education




Risk education



South Korea








Note: N/A = not applicable.


Since 2012, Libya has received more than $62 million in international assistance for mine action. While international assistance averaged about $19 million per year between 2011 and 2013; it has not exceeded $8 million in the past three years.

Summary of international contribution: 2012–2016[4]


Amount ($)














[1] Austria, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, June 2017; Germany, CCW Amended Protocol II Annual Report, Form E, and Annex, 31 March 2017; UNMAS, “Annual Report 2016,” March 2017, p. 32; South Korea, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Amended Protocol II Annual Report, Form B, 26 April 2017; Switzerland, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 28 April 2017; United Kingdom, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2017; response to Monitor questionnaire by Frank Meeussen, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, European External Action Service, 30 September 2017; and email from Steve Costner, Deputy Office Director, Weapons Removal and Abatement, United States (US) Department of State, 30 October 2017.

[2] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” January 2015.

[3] Average exchange rate for 2016: €1=US$1.1072; £1=1,3555; CHF0.9848=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 4 January 2017.

[4] See previous Monitor reports. Totals for international support in 2014 and 2012 have been rectified as a result of revised US funding data and database clean-up.


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.

Victim Assistance

Last updated: 04 October 2017

Libya is responsible for survivors of landmines and other types of explosive remnants of war (ERW). The total number of survivors is unknown. Outdated estimates ranged from 5,000 to 8,000 survivors through 1995.[1]

Victim assistance since 2015

In 2017, the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC) reported that the medical situation was very poor, for all hospital services, and that it had worsened since 2015. It also reported a decrease in physical rehabilitation services available.[2]

Handicap International (HI) 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.[3]

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 2016

Due to ongoing conflict, the civilian population struggled to access basic services such as healthcare, fuel, and electricity in 2016.[4]

Due to the political and security situation in 2016 no needs assessments were carried out and there was no victim assistance-specific coordination, active survivor or victim assistance strategy, or changes to relevant legal and policy frameworks. However, a national plan for victim assistance was developed in 2016.[5]

The situation of mine/ERW survivors and other persons injured in conflict remained critical in 2016. The escalation of violence and the rising number of wounded people strained an already weak health system. In 2017, HI reported that all persons with disabilities had insufficient access to essential services, regardless of the cause of the impairment.[6]

Assessing victim assistance needs

In May 2016, LibMAC appointed Victim Assistance Officers, who collected data and transferred the information to the database unit. However, there was no victim assistance needs assessment in 2016.[7]

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, LibMAC was established within the Ministry of Defense to manage all mine action activities in the country.[8] Responsibility for victim assistance lay with the Ministry of Health and the MCCS.[9] 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.[10] There was no national plan for victim assistance.[11] In 2016, victim assistance was discussed at monthly mine action coordination meetings, led by UNMAS and LibMAC.[12] LibMAC reported that a national plan for victim assistance was developed in 2016, with the support of a technical advisor provided from ITF Enhancing Human Security.[13]

In July 2017, UNMAS, LibMAC, and HI facilitated a victim assistance seminar in Tunis. The aim of the seminar was not only to promote victim assistance, but also to clarify the role of each actor and elaborate a draft victim assistance strategy.[14] Following this seminar, and if funding is allocated, HI, with the support of UNMAS, will assist LibMAC and relevant ministries in finalizing the victim assistance strategy, prioritizing activities through a comprehensive action plan, and setting up a coordinated and effective approach.[15]

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 National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.[16] 

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Ministry of Social Affairs


Managed Benghazi Rehabilitation Centre

Ministry of Social Affairs


Managed Janzour Rehabilitation Centre in Tripoli. Basic rehabilitation services reduced due to lack of resources and trained staff

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF)

International NGO

Emergency medical care, support to medical system, and strengthening healthcare; training of medical personnel

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


Emergency and ongoing medical care

In 2017, the healthcare system had significantly deteriorated to the point of collapse. The already fragile health system came under increasing pressure, with hospitals struggling to absorb the number of patients and to cope with the shortage of staff, essential medicines, and supplies.[17] Only 45% of health facilities were functioning. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed.[18]

A number of injured Libyans, including soldiers, were sent abroad for medical treatment by the government, although the number of patients treated abroad and supported financially by the government decreased significantly in 2017. Persons with disabilities who needed assistive devices and wheelchairs were generally required to purchase them with private funds, or had to approach local charity organizations for support.[19]

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.[20] However, the prosthetic and orthotic department of Abu Salim Hospital closed down at the end of 2016 due to a lack of resources. In spite of the lack of updated documentation, it is acknowledged among the aid community that the health situation has significantly deteriorated in 2017.[21] In 2016, only three of the seven major hospitals in Benghazi were functioning.[22]

MSF provided hospitals with medicines and trained medical staff.[23]

In 2016, the ICRC increased its emergency activities in order to respond to the rising number of wounded people.[24] Four hospitals received monthly support from the ICRC, which provided surgical supplies sufficient to treat 50 severely wounded patients, including mine injuries. The ICRC also provided ad hoc support to other hospitals. In 2016, 22 hospitals received such ad hoc support from the ICRC.[25] To respond to the influx of wounded people, between January and May 2017, 25 hospitals received ad hoc ICRC support.[26] In 2016, the ICRC trained surgeons and doctors on emergency trauma and clinical management of wounded patients. It also supported the national Red Crescent Society’s first-aid program.[27]

Physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics

There were three main rehabilitation centers in Libya: in Tripoli, Misrata, and Benghazi. In addition, some of the main trauma hospitals also offered physiotherapy services.[28] In 2016, there has been a steady decline in the availability of services. Many rehabilitation facilities closed down due to a lack of funding and/or personnel. Existing public and private services are overloaded and very costly, although the quality of services had also declined. By mid-2017 the only remaining prosthetics facility in Tripoli was unable to provide prosthetic devices due to a lack of materials and funding to purchase them resulting in a waiting list of 300 amputees needing prosthetic devices.[29]

HI provided physical therapy services to persons with disabilities and patients with conflict-related injuries, including from landmines and ERW, in Tripoli, Beni Walid, Msalata, and Tarhouna. Yet, due to the increasing demand in 2016, HI had to limit the number of assistive devices per beneficiary and focus on essential needs. As of June 2017, HI was supporting one rehabilitation center, Janzour Hospital, providing materials for prosthetics and orthotics, rehabilitation equipment, mobility aid devices, and technical training for staff.[30]

The ICRC supported the Misrata University Physical Rehabilitation Centre with prosthetics and orthotics material, as well as financial and technical assistance.[31] Although established in 2013, the Misrata University center first began to produce assistive devices in April 2016, activities having been delayed by security constraints and a lack of qualified personnel. The ICRC-supported orthopedic workshop provided services to 175 patients in 2016; eight prostheses delivered were delivered to mine/ERW survivors. The ICRC also supported orthopedic training abroad.[32] 

The health system lacked capacity in physiotherapy, prosthetics, and orthotics. Mobility aids were of low quality and many centers lacked the equipment and materials necessary to provide services. As of August 2017, the Swani rehabilitation center, located some 30 minutes from Tripoli was no longer functioning.[33] In June 2016, HI reported that the Swani rehabilitation center was the only center providing comprehensive rehabilitation in Libya. However, it was under-utilized due to its distance from Tripoli and other major towns in the Western Mountains. The distance and the poor security situation made it especially difficult for women to access the center.[34]

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.[35]

Economic inclusion

No information was available on economic inclusion initiatives for mine/ERW survivors in 2016.

Psychological support

There is no official budget for mental health care. Health professionals identified psychosocial support training as a priority for capacity building. Strong stigma toward psychosocial disabilities and their treatment prevented some war-injured persons from accessing psychosocial support and mental health care.[36]

In 2016, there was an increase in psychosocial services provided by international NGOs. However, local capacities were not sufficient to meet the needs, and the shortage of medication to address the issue remained a significant constraint to the adequacy of services.[37]

HI provided psychosocial support services to persons with disabilities and patients with conflict-related injuries, including from mines/ERW. In March 2017, HI organized a psychosocial support training for local organizations such as CESVI and local NGOs.[38]

Laws and policies

It was reported that Law No. 5 of 1987, on persons with disabilities, remained in effect. 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.[39]

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 2016, 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.[40] 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. The draft constitution also prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.[41] However, Libya’s Constitution Drafting Assembly failed to finalize a preliminary draft constitution in 2016.[42]

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.”[43]

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.[44]

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

[2] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ezzedine Ata Alia, Administration Manager, LibMAC, Tunis, 29 March 2017.

[3] Email from Anne Barthes, HI Libya, 26 May 2016.

[4] Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Libya: Events of 2016,” undated but January 2017.

[5] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ezzedine Ata Alia, LibMAC, Tunis, 29 March 2017.

[6] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[7] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ezzedine Ata Alia, LibMAC, Tunis, 29 March 2017.

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

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

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

[11] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ezzedine Ata Alia, LibMAC, Tunis, 29 March 2017.

[12] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[13] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ezzedine Ata Alia, LibMAC, Tunis, 29 March 2017.

[14] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[15] Ibid.

[16] 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.

[17] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[18] World Health Organization (WHO), “Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2017,” February 2017.

[19] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[20] Email from Cat Smith, Head of Mission, HI, 2 August 2017.

[21] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[22] MSF, “Libya,” 23 June 2017; and MSF, “Libya: The challenge of medical aid,” 1 July 2015.

[23] MSF, “Libya,” 23 June 2017.

[24] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 155.

[25] Ibid., p. 154.

[26] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Zaher Osman, Health Coordinator, ICRC, 12 June 2017.

[27] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 155.

[28] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Zaher Osman, ICRC, 12 June 2017.

[29] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Zaher Osman, ICRC, 12 June 2017.

[32] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 155.

[33] Email from Cat Smith, HI, 2 August 2017.

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

[35] Ibid., pp. 15 and 20.

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

[37] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Guillaume Limal and Martina Lukin, HI, 12 June 2017.

[38] Ibid.

[39] 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.

[40] United States Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Libya,” Washington, DC, March 2017.

[42] HRW, “Libya: Events of 2016,” undated, but January 2017.

[44] Ibid.