Mine Action

Last updated: 19 November 2018

Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty


Convention on Cluster Munitions


Mine action management

National mine action management actors

Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC), operates under the Ministry of Defense of the United Nations (UN)-backed Government of National Accord

UN agencies

UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), operating from Tunis

Mine action strategic plan


Mine action legislation


Mine action standards

National Mine Action Standards approved in August 2017

Operators in 2017


Army Engineers

National Safety Authority (NSA, also known as Civil Defense)


Free Fields Foundation (3F)

Arab Mine Action Consultancy Crew (AMACC)



Danish Church Aid (DCA)

Danish Demining Group (DDG)

Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International, HI)

Extent of contamination as of end 2017



Cluster munition remnants


Other ERW contamination

Significant contamination

Land release in 2017


No release of mine contaminated areas.

A 26km2 SHA was identified, suspected to contain both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines

Cluster munition remnants

No release of cluster munition-contaminated areas

50,400m2 was confirmed as contaminated

Unreported number of cluster munition remnants were destroyed during EOD spot tasks

Other ERW

Not reported

Notes: ERW = explosive remnants of war; EOD = explosive ordnance disposal; SHA = suspected hazardous area

Mine Contamination

Mine contamination in Libya is a legacy of the Second World War as well as subsequent armed conflict with Egypt in 1977 and with Chad in 1980−1987, which resulted in mines being laid on Libya’s borders with these two neighbours. The border with Tunisia is also believed to be affected. During Colonel Muammur Qaddafi’s four decades in power, mines were emplaced around a number of locations, including military facilities and key infrastructure.

Mines were used by both the government and the opposition forces during 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.[1] The escalation of conflict in Libya in 2014 brought new reports of mine use by armed groups fighting around Tripoli airport.[2] There is also evidence of landmine use by non-state armed groups in 2015 and 2016, especially in areas controlled by the Islamic State.[3]

There is no accurate estimate of the extent of antipersonnel mine contamination across Libya, as many suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) have not been surveyed. As of February 2017, national contamination data from the Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC) Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database, reported six confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs)—four in Sirte and two in Misrata, totalling almost 41.5km2, contaminated by antipersonnel mines—while a seventh CHA, in Sirte, of some 7.5km2, was contaminated by antivehicle mines. A massive single SHA, of almost 223km2, was suspected to contain only antivehicle mines.[4] It is likely that further survey will drastically reduce these figures, but at the same time many further suspected areas have not been surveyed.

UNMAS advocates for the need for survey to help quantify the scale and type of contamination, but the ongoing security situation poses major challenges to operationalising the necessary survey.[5]

Improvised mines are suspected to have been laid during 2016 by Islamic State in areas that they controlled, such as in Sirte.[6] In July 2017, the engineering divisions of Operation Dignity[7] continued to clear mines and booby-traps left by Islamic State fighters from Benghazi, but also warned civilians from attempting to return to their homes before clearance work was finished.[8]

The impact of mine contamination is unknown, but according to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the presence of landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) poses a persistent threat to the Libyan population. It also hinders the safe return of internally displaced people and restricts access for humanitarian workers.[9]

Cluster Munition Contamination

Contamination in Libya is the consequence of armed conflict in 2011 and renewed conflict since 2014, but the extent of the cluster munition hazard is unknown. In 2011, armed forces used at least three types of cluster munition, 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 tackling Russian PTAB cluster bombs,[10] while international media reported the presence of a fourth type of cluster munition that has remained unidentified.[11] Additional contamination by cluster munition remnants occurred as a result of kick-outs from ammunition storage areas bombed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in 2011.

In early 2015, fighting between Libya’s rival armed groups saw reported use of cluster munitions, including 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.[12] While the last confirmed use of cluster munitions in Libya was in January 2015, there are indications that additional attacks may have occurred since that time, including in 2016 and 2017. (See the Libya Cluster Munition Ban Policy profile for details.)

The impact of cluster munition remnants contamination is unknown, but according to UNSMIL the presence of landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) poses a persistent threat to the Libyan population. It also hinders the safe return of internally displaced persons and restricts access for humanitarian workers.[13]

Other explosive remnants of war

Libya is also contaminated by other UXO. According to UNMAS, ongoing conflict has resulted in significant ERW contamination in numerous cities across Libya, impacting on public infrastructure, such as schools, universities, and hospitals. Vast amounts of unsecured weapons and ammunition contaminate Libya. In addition, the ERW threat is exacerbated by the mines and ERW left from previous conflicts.[14]

Program Management

Mine action exists in a fragmented and violent political context. Following years of armed conflict, a new United Nations-backed “unity” government, the Government of National Accord, was formally installed in a naval base in Tripoli in early 2016. Through early 2017, however, it continued to face opposition from two rival governments and a host of militia forces.

The LibMAC was mandated by the Minister of Defense to coordinate mine action in December 2011.[15] In 2017, it was operating under the UN-backed Government of National Accord. LibMAC’s headquarters are in Tripoli, in the west of the country, and it also has offices in Benghazi[16] and Misrata.[17] In April 2016, a regional Operations Manager was appointed for the east.[18] In July 2016, LibMAC also established a small office in Misrata.[19] In 2017, the operating costs and salaries for the LibMAC were funded by the United States Department of State and administered by ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF).[20]

Strategic Planning

There is no national mine action strategy for Libya.

LibMAC does, however, prioritise survey and clearance operations and is responsible for issuing task orders. Prioritisation is, in part, informed by data collected and reported to LibMAC by operators such as the Danish Demining Group (DDG), during non-technical survey or explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and by reports from the local community.[21]

Legislation and Standards

There is no national mine action legislation in Libya, but National Mine Action Standards (NMAS), in Arabic and English, have been elaborated with the support of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), and were approved by the Government of National Accord in August 2017. Libya’s NMAS are available on the LibMAC website.[22]

As of April 2018, Humanity and Inclusion (HI) was reviewing and updating its standing operating procedures (SOPs) for Libya following the release of the new NMAS, which are aligned with the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).[23] DDG was also in the final stages of updating its SOPs, as of June 2018.[24]

Quality Management

UNMAS provides remote training and assistance to LibMAC in quality management, from its office in Tunis.[25]

Information Management

LibMAC receives technical support for the IMSMA database from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and UNMAS.


Mine action operations have been conducted by the army engineers, a police unit, and the Ministry of Interior’s National Safety Authority (NSA), also known as Civil Defense.[26] The NSA is mandated to conduct EOD in civilian areas.[27] These institutions liaise with LibMAC but are not tasked or accredited by them, nor do they provide clearance reports to the Centre.

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 provides institutional and operational capacity-building, training, including in EOD, and support and advice to LibMAC, including in establishing processes for the accreditation and activities of mine action actors in Libya.[28] Despite the relocation of the program to Tunisia, due to poor security in Libya since 2014, UNMAS Libya continues to coordinate with national authorities and implementing partners, including by providing technical advice and advisory support on arms and ammunition management. The UNMAS Libya Programme is an integral part of the UNSMIL.[29]

Since 2015, UNMAS has trained more than 70 NSA operators and military engineers in advanced EOD and 30 officers from eastern Libya in non-technical survey, and has provided advanced medical first-responder training to 72 EOD operators from Benghazi and other personnel in Sirte.[30]

DanChurchAid (DCA) is operational in Libya, clearing ERW, and providing risk education, psychosocial support, armed violence reduction, and training of national authorities. Now in its seventh year of working in Libya, DCA reportedly has offices in Benghazi, Misrata, and Tripoli.[31]

DDG set up its Libya mine action program remotely from Tunisia in 2014, but in early 2017 it relocated to Libya. DDG is operational in three areas of Libya: Benghazi, Sabha (in the south-west), and Tripoli.[32] After setting up in Benghazi in December 2017, DDG spent the first quarter of 2018 obtaining accreditation and putting in place necessary policies and procedures before becoming operational. In Sabha, DDG has one non-technical survey team and one EOD team, which it manages remotely. Security issues in the south continue to disrupt mine action operations and prevent continuous operations. In Tripoli, DDG works through its implementing partner, National NGO Free Fields Foundation (3F). 3F operates under DDG’s accreditation and SOPs, and has an operational capacity of 37 people, comprising three EOD teams and one non-technical survey team.[33]

HI’s mine action program in 2017 continued to be remotely managed from Tunis.[34] In 2017, HI had three risk education teams, but no survey or clearance capacity in Libya. HI hoped to be able to deploy a roving survey and EOD capacity in 2018 in the Sirte and Misrata regions, in addition to risk education.[35]

HI trained two local partners in non-technical survey in 2016: Peace Organisation from Zintan, and World Without War (3W) from Misrata. Both organisations received accreditation for non-technical survey from LibMAC after the training. Following the training, Peace Organization conducted non-technical survey under remote management by HI from Tunis.[36] Another of HI’s implementing partners, Arab Mine Action Consultancy Crew (AAMAC), conducted non-technical survey in one cluster munition-suspected area in 2017.[37]

A number of other Libyan civil society organisations are also reported to carry out mine action operations, but they are not accredited by LibMAC.

Military engineers reportedly lack mine detectors and are working with rudimentary tools. According to a military source quoted in the New York Times, 50 have been killed and a further 60 wounded.[38]

Land Release

There were no reports of planned mine or cluster munition clearance during 2017 although several operators engaged in EOD operations. No mined or cluster munition contaminated area was reported to have been released by survey in 2017 either.

Survey in 2017

No mined or cluster munition contaminated area was reported to have been reduced by technical survey or cancelled by non-technical survey in 2017.

HI reported that non-technical survey in 2017 in Kikla, northern Libya, identified a 26km2 SHA in a wooded area, which it suspects contains both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines.[39]

In 2017, AMACC reported undertaking non-technical survey of one suspected hazardous area (SHA) in the Kikla area, southwest of Tripoli, during which 50,400m2 was confirmed as cluster munition-contaminated.[40]

Clearance in 2017

No planned mine or cluster munition clearance was reported for 2017.

Cluster munition remnants were reportedly destroyed during EOD spot tasks in 2017, but information on the number of submunitions destroyed has not been reported by LibMAC.[41]

Progress toward completion

LibMAC describes the following challenges to implementation of mine action operations: the high level of contamination; ongoing conflict and the continued presence of Islamic State; the difficulty in convincing internally displaced persons to delay their return until the ERW threat is addressed; security and access to priority areas; the limited ERW and IED disposal capacity in Libya; the vast geographical area; and the shortfall in governmental and international support.[42] Security conditions continued to pose a challenge to mine action in Libya, and as of June 2018, non-governmental organisations were frequently forced to suspend operations in the south-west due to poor security.[43]

In his February 2018 report on the work of UNSMIL, the UN Secretary-General stated that explosive ordnance “continue to pose a significant, indiscriminate threat to the civilian population” and urged “Member States to expand their funding to activities in priority areas equipment.”[44]

As of September 2018, the security situation in Libya had deteriorated significantly, posing considerable challenges for mine action operations for both national and international organisations, including issues of access.[45]


The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (, which has conducted the primary mine action research in 2018 and shared all its country-level landmine reports (from “Clearing the Mines 2018”) and country-level cluster munition reports (from “Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2018”) with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.

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

[2] Human Rights Watch, “Libya: New evidence of landmine use,” 5 November 2014.

[3] Landmine Monitor, “Libya: Mine Ban Policy,” last updated 23 October 2017; email from Lutz Kosewsky, DDG, 22 February 2017; and telephone interview with Darren Devlin, Programme Manager Libya, DDG, 20 June 2018.

[4] Emails from Abdullatif Abujarida, LibMAC, 20 February and 9 March 2017.

[5] Email from Lance Malin, Chief, UNMAS Libya, 11 September 2018.

[6] “Libya forces de-mine and clear Sirte after liberation from Isis militants,” Independent, 11 August 2016.

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

[8] Landmines in Africa blog, July 2017, at

[9] “Lives and Limbs Shattered by Libya Mines”, Asharq Al-Awsat, 5 April 2018.

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

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

[12] Human Rights Watch, “Libya: Evidence of new cluster bomb use,” 14 March 2015.

[13] “Lives and Limbs Shattered by Libya Mines,” Asharq Al-Awsat, 5 April 2018.

[14] UNMAS, “Libya: Humanitarian Mine Action,” last updated February 2016.

[15] LibMAC website, accessed 25 June 2018.

[16] Email from Jakob Donatz, Associate Programme Officer, UNMAS, 21 June 2018.

[17] Email from Roman Turšič, Head of Implementation Office Libya/Afghanistan, ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF), 26 February 2017.

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

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

[20] Email from Roman Turšič, ITF, 26 February 2017.

[21] Telephone interview with Darren Devlin, DDG, 20 June 2018; and email, 4 July 2018.

[22] LibMAC website,;and “Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Support Mission in Libya,” UN doc. S/2018/140, 12 February 2018, p.12.; and UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” March 2018

[23] Email from Catherine Smith, Head of Mission, HI, 30 April 2018.

[24] Telephone interview with Darren Devlin, DDG, 20 June 2018.

[25] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” March 2018.

[26] Interview with Col. Turjoman, LibMAC, in Geneva, 10 January 2017.

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

[28] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” March 2018; and emails from Lyuba Guerassimova, Programme Officer, UNMAS, 28 February 2017 and Dandan Xu, Associate Programme Management Officer, UNMAS, 12 July 2017; and “Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Support Mission in Libya,” UN Doc. S/2018/140, 12 February 2018, p.12.

[29] Email from Jakob Donatz, UNMAS, 21 June 2018.

[30] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” June 2018.

[31] DCA website, accessed 18 June 2018.

[32] Telephone interview with Darren Devlin, DDG, 20 June 2018; and email, 4 July 2018.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 30 April 2018.

[35] Ibid.

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

[37] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 30 April 2018.

[38] “Mine still claim legs and lives in Libya’s Benghazi, months after war ceased,” New York Times, 21 January 2018.

[39] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 30 April 2018.

[40] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 30 April 2018.

[41] Email from Jakob Donatz, UNMAS, 21 June 2018.

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

[43] Telephone interview with Darren Devlin, DDG, 20 June 2018.

[44] “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya,” UN doc. S/2018/140, 12 February 2018, p. 16.

[45] Email from Lance Malin, UNMAS, 11 September 2018.