Libya

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 27 July 2019

Summary: Non-signatory Libya has expressed interest in the convention, but has taken no steps to join it. Libya has participated in meetings of the convention, most recently in September 2016. It voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2018.

Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported them and possesses a stockpile. The Monitor has not able to independently confirm alleged use of cluster munitions in Libya this year.

Policy

Libya has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Libya has expressed interest in the convention, but has taken no steps over the past decade to join it.[1]

A Government of National Accord (GNA) resulting from a 2015 UN-facilitated political process has continued to function in Libya despite continued hostilities between two major factions to the agreement, namely the House of Representatives allied with General Khalifa Hiftar in the east of Libya, who commands the Libya National Army (LNA), and the alliance of militias known as the Libyan Dawn coalition that controls most of western Libya. Other parts of Libyan territory are controlled or contested by smaller militias.

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.[2] Libya did not attend the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.

Libya has participated as an observer in meetings of the convention, but not since September 2016.[3]

In December 2018, Libya voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] Libya has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Libya is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also has not joined 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, particularly comprehensive information on the types, quantities, and storage locations.Stockpiled cluster munitions were 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 submunitions), ground-fired munitions (MAT-120 mortar projectiles containing submunitions), and an unidentified type of submunition contained in Grad-type 122mm surface-to-surface rockets.[5] Additionally, in the past, Jane’s Information Group listed Libya as possessing KMGU dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[6]

Spain confirmed transferring 1,055 MAT-120 cluster munitions containing 22,155 submunitions to Libya in 2006 and 2008.[7]

Use

There have been allegations and some indicators of new use of cluster munitions in Libya in the past year, but the Monitor has not been able to independently confirm this or identify who may be responsible. Continued conflict limits access to strike sites and there is a lack of independent media and local reporting from inside the country.

In May 2019, LNA forces loyal to General Hiftar were accused of using cluster bombs in attacks in and around Tripoli.[8] GNA’s “Volcano of Wrath” released more than 30 undated photographs—that were not geolocated—showing the remnants of Soviet/Russian RBK-250 cluster bombs and various submunitions reportedly “discovered in greater Tripoli and other areas (Ras al-Lufa, al-Sawani, al-Aziziyah, al-Tugar Mosque and Bir al-Ghanem).”[9]

LNA forces may have used cluster munitions in air attacks on opposition forces in the period since 2015.[10] An aviation-focused blogger has documented cluster munitions loaded on to LNA aircraft that were subsequently used to conduct air attacks on opposition forces in 2016–2017 and through to June 2018.[11] Investigations by international human rights organizations found evidence of LNA cluster bomb use in late 2014 and early 2015.[12]

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provide air support to the forces of Khalifa Hiftar. Both states possess cluster munitions and have not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Previous use

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.[13] At least 10 states and the European Union expressed concern over or condemned the use of cluster munitions in Libya in 2011.[14]

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.[15] However, NATO airstrikes on ammunition storage facilities created hazards when munitions stored by Libya, including cluster munitions, were ejected into the surrounding environment.[16]

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 an intervention in Chad during the 1986–1987 conflict.[17]

The US Navy used Mk.-20 Rockeye cluster bombs during an attack on Libyan ships on 25 March 1986, while US Navy aircraft dropped 60 Rockeye bombs on Benina airfield on 14–15 April 1986.[18]

In 2009, a commercial oil company survey crew in Libya found the remnants of a German World War II-era SD-2 “butterfly bomb” (an early version of a cluster bomb) and destroyed the remnants of another six such cluster bombs.[19]



[1] In 2012, Libya told States Parties that it was “committed” the convention. Statement of Libya, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 12 September 2012. Notes by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

[2] 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 urged 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.

[3] Libya participated as an observer in convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016, as well as the First Review Conference in 2015. It has attended regional workshops on cluster munitions, most recently in Lomé, Togo in May 2013.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

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

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

[7] 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.

[8] According to a 19 June 2019 press briefing by the Faiez Serraj-aligned Volcano of Rage operations room (Burkan Alghadab), which coordinates the fight against the Hifter forces. Sami Zaptia, “Tripoli forces claim successes and accuse Hafter of using cluster bombs and internationally banned phosphorus bombs,” Libya Herald, 20 June 2019.

[9] Oded Berkowitz (@Oded121351), “#Libya- #GNA Volcano of Wrath release a reassure trove of 34 photos showing various cluster bombs & submunition discovered in greater #Tripoli and other areas (Ras al-Lufa, al-Sawani, al-Aziziyah, al-Tugar Mosque and Bir al-Ghanem). Some posted before but will re-post all,” 19 June 2019, Tweet.

[10] Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan CBU monitoring,” AeroHistory blog, undated.

[11] A photograph showed a RBK-250–270 PTAB 2.5M cluster bomb mounted on a MiG-23 aircraft that reportedly flew sorties to southern Sebha. Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del), “#Libya - #LNA MiG-23UB '8008' loaded with RBK-250–270 cluster bomb seen at Brak al-Shati before taking off to strike Chadian militias southern #Sebha,” 6 June 2018, Tweet. This is the only evidence of possible use in 2018, while there were three sightings of RBK-series PTAB-2.5M and AO-1SCh cluster munitions affixed to Libyan aircraft in 2017. Arnaud Delalande, “Libyan CBU monitoring,” AeroHistory blog, 9 July 2017; Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del), “Video – LNA tech. loading bombs (including RBK-250 cluster bombs) on MiG-23UB ‘8008’ before striking #Benghazi Defense Brigade this morning,” 3 March 2017, Tweet; and Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del), “Video - LNA still used cluster bombs against SDB : MiG-23BN '4136' loaded with 2 RBK-250 at Benina AB this afternoon #Libya,” 3 March 2017, Tweet; and Arnaud Delalande, “All Bets Are Off as a Surprise Offensive Roils the Libyan War,” War is Boring, 6 March 2017.

[12] LNA forces used cluster bombs in Bin Jawad on or about 9 January 2015, again on 18 December 2014, and in Sirte in December 2014 or the first quarter of 2015. 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.

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

[14] 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.

[15] 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.

[16] 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.

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

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

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


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

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

In October 2017, a representative said that Libya “supports the concerns of the international community about the humanitarian impact of anti-personnel mines and their destruction and the fact that they hinder sustainable development. We need only look at the effects of anti-personnel mines since the Second World War. We are also well aware of the damage caused by occupation. However, the Convention does not make reference to the responsibility that occupying States bear for repairing the damage they have caused and assisting the countries they have colonized.”[1]

In October 2011, two Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials informed the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (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 2018, Libya voted in favor of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 73/61 supporting the universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, which it has done consistently since 2012. Libya had previously abstained from the annual resolution between 1998 and 2011.[3]

Prior to being deposed 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 the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November–December 2015 as an observer, but did not make any statements.

Libya is not 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 antivehicle 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 2019.[11]

Use

There have been no confirmed reports of new landmine use in Libya in the reporting period (October 2018 to October 2019).

Sporadic reports of landmine use by militias active in Libya have emerged from time to time since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime.[12] In May 2018, it was alleged that the Shura Council of the Mujahideen in Darna laid landmines while fighting forces loyal to Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.[13] Civilians seeking food and fuel were also reported to have been killed by landmines during the conflict.[14]

A spokesman for the eastern Libyan National Army said 68 soldiers were killed and 45 injured by landmines in 2017.[15]Reports of civilian deaths and injuries continue to be reported in the local media.[16]

Previous use

Human Rights Watch (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.[17] Three types of mines were also found abandoned at three other locations.

Mine types identified in Libya during the 2011 conflict

Name

Type

Country of production

Location used/user

T-AB-1

Antipersonnel

Brazil

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

Type-72SP

Antivehicle

China

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

Type-84A

Antivehicle

China

Used by government forces in Misrata

TMA-5

Antivehicle

Yugoslavia

Abandoned stockpiles in Benghazi

PT Mi-Ba-III

Antivehicle

Former Czechoslovakia

Abandoned stockpiles in Benghazi

PRB-M3 and

PRB-M3A1

Antivehicle

Belgium

Used by rebels in Ajdabiya; abandoned in storage in Benghazi

NR-442

Antipersonnel

Belgium

Abandoned stockpiles in Ajdabiya and Tripoli

NR-413

Antipersonnel

Belgium

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.[18]



[1] Libya, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.40, 72nd Session, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 31 October 2017, UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/72/PV.26, p. 7/29.

[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] The change came after outreach by the ICBL, including Human Rights Watch (HRW). 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] See previous Landmine Monitor country report for details. Landmine Monitor, “Country Profile: Libya: Ban Policy,” 9 October 2018.

[15]Libya: Over 160 Libyan Soldiers Killed in Benghazi in 2017,” Forum on China-Africa Cooperation via AllAfrica, 4 January 2018.

[16]Landmines kill 8 civilians in Oct. in Libya's Benghazi,” Xinhua, 4 November 2017; Ayman al-Warfalli, “Mines still claim legs and lives in Libya's Benghazi months after war ceased,” Reuters, 21 January 2018; Safa Alharathy, “Boy wounded in landmine explosion in Benghazi,” Libya Observer, 29 April 2018; and Safa Alharathy, “Two killed in landmine explosions in Benghazi during May,” Libya Observer, 3 June 2018.

[17] 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: 19 November 2018

Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

Non-signatory

Convention on Cluster Munitions

Non-signatory

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

None

Mine action legislation

None

Mine action standards

National Mine Action Standards approved in August 2017

Operators in 2017

National:

Army Engineers

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

Police

Free Fields Foundation (3F)

Arab Mine Action Consultancy Crew (AMACC)

 

International:

Danish Church Aid (DCA)

Danish Demining Group (DDG)

Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International, HI)

Extent of contamination as of end 2017

Landmines

Unknown

Cluster munition remnants

Unknown

Other ERW contamination

Significant contamination

Land release in 2017

Landmines

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.

Operators

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 (www.mineactionreview.org), 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 https://landminesinafrica.wordpress.com/tag/libya/.

[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.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 18 December 2019

In 2018, Libya received US$27.5 million in international assistance from eight donors; this is similar to the 2017 level of funding.[1]

In addition to financial support, Switzerland provided in-kind assistance to support clearance activities in Libya (valued at $255,000).

International contributions: 2018[2]

Donor

Sector

Amount (national currency)

Amount (US$)

European Union

Various

€15,000,000

17,725,500

United Kingdom

Capacity-building, clearance and risk education

£2,887,270

3,858,259

Netherlands

Various

€1,500,000

1,772,550

France

Clearance

€1,300,385

1,536,665

United States

Various

US$1,000,000

1,000,000

Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Capacity-building

N/A

800,000

Italy

Capacity-building

€600,000

709,020

Switzerland

Risk education

CHF75,200

76,860

Total

   

27,478,854

Note: N/A = not applicable.

Since 2014, Libya has received more than $75 million in international assistance for mine action, of which nearly two-fifths was provided in 2018 alone.

Summary of international contribution: 2014–2018[3]

Year

Amount (US$)

2018

27,478,854

2017

26,021,657

2016

7,976,805

2015

6,803,637

2014

7,117,894

Total

75,398,847

 



[1] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Frank Meeussen, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, European External Action Service, 30 September 2019; email from Yves Marek, Ambassador, Commission nationale pour l’élimination des mines (CNEMA), 10 July 2019; Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, March 2019; Netherlands, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, April 2019; Switzerland, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 24 April 2019; UNMAS, “Annual Report 2017,” March 2018, pp. 22–23; United Kingdom, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2019; and United States Department of State, “To walk the earth in safety 2019,” 3 April 2019.

[2] Average exchange rate for 2018: €1=US$1.1817; £1=US$1.3363;,CHF0.9784=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2019.

[3] See previous Monitor reports. Total for international support in 2017 has been rectified as a result of revised funding data for France.


Casualties

Last updated: 21 October 2018

 

Casualties

All known casualties

Unknown, many thousands; between 1999 and 2017: 3,252 mine/unexploded remnants of war (ERW) casualties: 382 killed; 2,864 injured: 6 unknown survival outcome*

Casualties in 2017[1]

Annual total

184

significant decrease from1,610 in 2016

Survival outcome

88 killed; 96 injured

Device type causing casualties

8 antipersonnel mines; 10 improvised mines; 104 unspecified mines; 4 ERW; 58 unknown devices

Civilian status

45 civilians; 5 deminers; 40 military; 94 unknown

Age and gender

125 adults:
6 women; 118 men; 1 unknown

13 children:
6 boys; 2 girls; 5 unknown

42 unknown

 

The Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC) and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) collected information on casualties. However, due to the ongoing conflict the national casualty surveillance system was not fully functional.[2] It is therefore likely that casualties went unreported. Notably, almost all the data collected from the three sources— LibMAC, UNSMIL, and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)—was unique. Monitor analysis showed little duplication of mine/ERW casualties reported.

The 184 casualties identified in 2017 represents a significant decrease from the 1,610 casualties reported for 2016. However, the ICRC, which provided most of the data for 2016 (1,465), did not provide information on mine/ERW casualties for 2017. It was also a decrease on the 1,004 casualties identified in 2015. Moreover, Handicap International (HI, now Humanity & Inclusion), which provided most of the data for 2015 (935 casualties), was unable to collect data in 2016.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] Previous estimates were approximately 12,000, with the Libyan police reporting 11,845 casualties between 1940 and 1995 (6,749 killed; 5,096 injured) and the Libyan Jihad Center for Historical Studies reporting 12,258 (3,874 killed; 8,384 injured) between 1952 and 1975.[6]

Cluster munition casualties

The total number of cluster munition casualties in Libya is not known. There were no cluster munition casualties reported for 2017. 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] Unless otherwise indicated, casualty data for 2017 is based on: emails from Abdullatif Abujarida, Internationa Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) Manager, Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC), 13 February 2018; and from Diana Eltahawy, United Nations Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL), 7 February 2018; and, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) data for Libya, January to December 2017.

[2] Two of the sources for Monitor data in the previous two years—Humanity & Inclusion (HI, formerly Handicap International) and the ICRC did not have data available for 2017.

[3] Email from Catherine Smith, HI, 23 March 2017.

[4] 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.

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

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


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

None

Plan

None

 

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

Government

Managed Benghazi Rehabilitation Centre

Ministry of Social Affairs

Government

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

ICRC

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.