Libya

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Summary

Non-signatory Libya has expressed interest in the convention, but has not taken any steps to join it. Libya participated in a meeting of the convention in November 2020. Libya voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020.

Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it has imported them and possesses a stockpile. There were allegations of new use of cluster munitions by forces affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) during 2019.

Policy

Libya has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

While Libya has expressed interest in the convention, it has not taken any steps to accede to it.[1]

In March 2020, a Government of National Unity was formed as the new interim authority ahead of national elections scheduled for December 2021. It seeks to replace the Tripoli-based former Government of National Accord and the armed group based in eastern Libya known as Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), which is commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. Smaller militias have controlled or contested other parts of Libyan territory.

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 participated as an observer in the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference in November 2020. This was its first participation in a meeting of the convention since 2016.[3]

In December 2020, Libya voted in favor of a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution urging 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.

In June 2020, Libya voted in favor of a Human Rights Council resolution condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[5]

Libya is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty nor the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions. It imported and possesses cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the types or quantities stockpiled or where the munitions are stored.During the uprising that led to the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, abandoned and unsecured stocks of cluster munitions were seized by anti-government forces and civilians, and subjected to NATO airstrikes. There has been no systematic or coordinated stockpile destruction effort by successive interim governments or clearance operators in Libya.

From the use of cluster munitions in recent years, it is apparent 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.[6] In 2004, Jane’s Information Group listed Libya as possessing KMGU dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[7] Spain confirmed transferring 1,055 MAT-120 cluster munitions containing 22,155 submunitions to Libya in 2006 and 2008.[8]

Use

There were no allegations or reports of new use of cluster munitions in 2020 or the first half of 2021.

Previous use

During 2019, there were several instances or allegations of cluster munition use in Libya by forces affiliated with the LNA. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), LNA forces used cluster munitions in an airstrike on Tripoli, on or around 2 December 2019.[9]

An investigation by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) into a 15–16 August 2019 attack on Zuwarah Airport that caused two casualties found RBK-500 cluster munition remnants at the site. LNA forces loyal to Field Marshal Haftar took responsibility for conducting the strike and possess RBK-500 cluster bombs.[10]

LNA forces were accused of using cluster bombs in May 2019 in attacks in and around Tripoli.[11] The GNA’s “Volcano of Wrath” military campaign against Field Marshal Haftar released 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).”[12]

Between 2015 and 2018, there were allegations and some evidence of new use of cluster munitions in Libya, but the Monitor was not able to conclusively attribute responsibility to LNA forces.[13] An aviation blogger documented cluster munitions being loaded on to LNA aircraft used to conduct air attacks on opposition forces in 2016–2018.[14] Investigations by international human rights organizations found evidence of LNA cluster bomb use in late 2014 and early 2015.[15]

Government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi used at least three different types of cluster munitions at various locations in Libya in 2011: 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.[16] At least 10 states and the European Union (EU) expressed concern over or condemned this use of cluster munitions.[17] In its formal response to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, NATO confirmed that it did not use cluster munitions in Libya in 2011.[18] However, NATO airstrikes on ammunition storage facilities created hazards when munitions stored by Libya, including cluster munitions, were ejected into the surrounding environment.[19]

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.[20]

The United States (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.[21]

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.[22]



[1] In 2012, Libya told States Parties that it was “committed” to 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. In September 2008, Libya endorsed an action plan issued by the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, committing to sign and ratify the convention. 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 Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2015, and regional workshops.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”, UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 43/28, 22 June 2020.

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

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

[8] 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.

[9] HRW visited the site of the attack in December 2019 and found remnants of two RBK-250 PTAB 2.5M cluster bombs, apparently used in the attack. There were no reports of casualties and the area was not known to be contaminated by cluster munitions before the attack. HRW, “Libya: Banned Cluster Munitions Used in Tripoli,” 20 February 2020.

[11] This is 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 Gen. Haftar’s LNA forces. Sami Zaptia, “Tripoli forces claim successes and accuse Hafter of using cluster bombs and internationally banned phosphorus bombs,” Libya Herald, 20 June 2019.

[12] Berkowitz, Oded (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, 10:05 UTC, Tweet.

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

[14] 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. Delalande, Arnaud (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, 09:53 UTC, 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; Delalande, Arnaud (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, 11:24 UTC, Tweet; and Delalande, Arnaud (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, 16:52 UTC, Tweet; and Arnaud Delalande, “All Bets Are Off as a Surprise Offensive Roils the Libyan War,” War is Boring, 6 March 2017.

[15] 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.

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

[17] 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.

[18] 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.

[19] 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.

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

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

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


Impact

Last updated: 26 March 2021

Jump to a specific section of the chapter:

Treaty Status | Management & Coordination | Impact (contamination & casualties) | Addressing the Impact (land release, risk education, victim assistance)

Country Summary

Landmine contamination in Libya is a legacy of World War II, as well as subsequent armed conflicts with Egypt in 1977 and Chad in 1980−1987, which resulted in mines being laid on Libya’s borders with these two countries. Libya’s border with Tunisia is also believed to be contaminated. During Muammar Gaddafi’s four decades in power, mines were emplaced around a number of locations, including military facilities and key infrastructure.

Mines were used by both government and opposition forces during the 2011 conflict that resulted in Gaddafi’s overthrow. Since the escalation of conflict in Libya in 2014, there have been reports of the use of both landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by opposition groups.[1] The concentration of violent conflict in urban areas has left densely-populated cities contaminated, complicating survey and clearance efforts.[2] In January 2020, the United Nations (UN) estimated that Libya was contaminated by around 20 million mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).[3]

Mine/ERW risk education in Libya is conducted alongside explosive ordnance disposal and battle area clearance, and is integrated with humanitarian assistance. Ongoing hostilities have resulted in large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), whom are a target group for risk education along with children. The humanitarian situation in Libya has deteriorated since the April 2019 offensive by forces aligned to the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar.[4] This led to further displacement and impacted mine action operations, particularly in the Tripoli region near the frontlines.[5]

The UN estimates the number of mine/ERW survivors in Libya to be at least 2,886, with the true number likely to be much higher. The Libyan government provides financial support to survivors, provided they meet eligibility criteria.[6] The government does not run any other victim assistance program and other services are delivered by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly Humanity & Inclusion (HI). The conflict has had a debilitating effect on all essential services, and has resulted in an increase in humanitarian needs in the areas affected by violence, particularly in remote regions that were already poorly served. Many municipalities are left to provide essential services, but with limited resources due to weak financial management and distribution systems.[7]

Treaty status

Treaty status overview

Mine Ban Treaty

Non-signatory

Convention on Cluster Munitions

Non-signatory

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

State Party

 

Management and coordination

Mine action management and coordination

Mine Action management and coordination overview[8]

Mine action commenced

2011

National mine action management actors

The Libyan Mine Action Center (LibMAC); operates under the Ministry of Defense of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA)

UN Agencies

United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS)

Other actors

Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD)

ITF Enhancing Human Security

Mine action legislation

None

Mine action strategies and operational plans

No national mine action strategy; LibMAC prioritizes survey and clearance operations and issues task orders to operators

Mine action Standards

14 standards in Arabic and English; approved in 2017

 

Coordination

LibMAC was established in May 2011 to manage all mine action activities across the country. A management board was appointed by the Ministry of Defence in December 2011.[9] LibMAC holds mine action coordination meetings on a monthly basis.

UNMAS is integrated into the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and provides capacity-building support to LibMAC, including technical training in explosive ordnance disposal, non-technical survey (NTS), and ammunition and chemical safety. UNMAS supports LibMAC accreditation processes for mine action organizations and facilitates coordination with international stakeholders and implementing partners. UNMAS also has an arms and ammunition advisory role. Deployed in March 2011, UNMAS has mainly been operating from Tunis, the capital of neighboring Tunisia, since 2014 due to renewed hostilities in Libya.[10]

ITF Enhancing Human Security has provided capacity-building support to LibMAC since 2014, administering operating costs and salaries.[11] It has also conducted capacity-building in operations, and in internal LibMAC administration processes and procedures.

Information management

LibMAC uses the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), and planned to transition to IMSMA Core in 2020 with support from GICHD and UNMAS.

Risk education management and coordination

Risk education management and coordination overview[12]

Government focal points

LibMAC has a dedicated risk education department

Coordination mechanisms

LibMAC coordinates monthly meetings for implementing humanitarian mine action partners and risk education activities are reported on during these meetings

Risk education standards

Libya Mine Action Standards (LibMAS) 12.10 on Mine/ ERW risk education

 

Coordination

Risk education is included as a topic for discussion in the mine action coordination meetings held monthly by LibMAC, in which operators provide an update on activities and progress, and discuss challenges. Coordination was hampered by the onset of hostilities in April 2019, which resulted in office closures, restricted movement, and downsizing or suspension of funding.[13] While operators reported that coordination resumed several months later, semi-remote management continued to complicate efforts.

National standards and guidelines

Risk education is included within LibMAC’s national mine action standards, which were approved in August 2017 and are published in English and Arabic.[14] The format and content of the standards indicates that they were adapted directly from the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).

Victim assistance management and coordination

Victim Assistance management and coordination[15]

Government focal points

The Ministry of Social Affairs provided financial assistance to survivors through the Social Solidarity Fund

Coordination mechanisms

  • LibMAC has a dedicated victim assistance department, and a position of Victim Assistance Officer was introduced in 2015
  • LibMAC actively coordinates with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs
  • The Protection Sector, coordinated by UNMAS, facilitates the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Technical Working Group, with involvement from the Health Sector

Coordination regularity and outcomes

  • LibMAC coordinates monthly meetings with its mine action implementing partners
  • LibMAC, in coordination with UNMAS, held a workshop in March 2019 that produced a position paper with priorities for improvement of victim assistance provision in Libya

Plans/strategies

None

Disability sector integration

 

The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for supervising and monitoring the operation of social care and coordination between actors

Survivor inclusion and participation

Representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities participated in meetings on victim assistance

 

 

Laws and policies

The Constitutional Declaration addresses the rights of persons with disabilities by providing for monetary and other types of social assistance for the “protection” of persons with “special needs,” with respect to access to employment, education, healthcare, and provision of other government services. However, it does not explicitly prohibit discrimination.[16]

In Libya, persons with disabilities face “multiple barriers and discrimination.” 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 persons who sustained permanent impairments while fighting in the 2011 uprising against the former Gaddafi government, and also for civilians who sustained injuries during attacks by Gaddafi forces. Claimants in this category receive greater benefits in comparison to other persons with disabilities. Lawyers for Justice in Libya, an NGO, notes that this disparity “highlights inequality in the treatment of people with disabilities as well as discriminating between them on the basis of political association.”[17] In July 2020, representatives from organizations of persons with disabilities presented the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a proposal for measures to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities in Libya.[18]

The draft constitution of July 2017 includes a specific provision, Article 60, on the rights of persons with disabilities. The article commits Libya to guarantee the health, social, educational, economic, political, sporting, and entertainment rights of persons with disabilities on an equal basis to others, and to make facilities accessible.[19] On 24 September 2018, the House of Representatives passed the constitution referendum law, bringing these measures into effect.[20]

Impact

Contamination

As of the end of 2019, the extent of landmine contamination in Libya was unknown, but included new contamination and improvised mines. New cluster munition remnant contamination was also reported in 2019, but the total extent was unknown. The extent of contamination from ERW in Libya is also unknown, but thought to be massive in scale.

Landmine contamination

There is no accurate estimate of antipersonnel mine contamination in Libya, as many suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) have not been surveyed. Improvised mines are thought to have been laid in 2016 by the Islamic State in areas which they controlled, such as Sirte.[21] As of February 2017, data from LibMAC’s IMSMA database reported six confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs)—four in Sirte and two in Misrata, totaling almost 41.5km2—contaminated by antipersonnel landmines. A seventh CHA of 7.5km2, in Sirte, was contaminated by antivehicle landmines. Additionally, a large area classified as a single SHA, totaling 223km2, was suspected to contain antivehicle mines.[22]

Hostilities since April 2019 have seen the LNA, led by Khalifa Haftar, gain and then subsequently relinquish urban territory around Tripoli. As LNA forces withdrew, they laid landmines and IEDs, meaning the area of contamination will have increased substantially since 2017.[23] It was reported in 2020 that Russian mercenaries in Libya had also planted landmines and IEDs.[24] In May 2020, the Government of National Accord reported significant mine contamination in areas of Tripoli vacated by rebels that month. Landmines and IEDs were emplaced in residential areas and public buildings such as schools and hospitals,[25] placing civilians at great risk and in many instances preventing the return of IDPs.[26]

At the Eighteenth Meeting to State Parties to Mine Ban Treaty in November 2020, Libya reported that the Presidential Council of National Accord had established a working group to investigate the means for acceding to the treaty, noting that mines have caused “excessive damage and pain.” Libya reiterated that it is still suffering from the consequences of World War II-era contamination and new contamination since 2011, including from new mine types used in 2020 in Tripoli.[27]

Cluster munition remnants contamination

Cluster munition contamination in Libya is the consequence of armed conflict in 2011 and renewed conflict since 2014, but the full extent is unknown. In 2011, armed forces loyal to Gaddafi used at least three different 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. (See Libya cluster ban policy profile for further information).

In 2012, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) reported tackling Russian PTAB cluster bombs,[28] while media reports have suggested the presence of a fourth type of cluster munition in Libya, which has not yet been identified.[29] Additional contamination occurred as a result of cluster munitions being ejected from ammunition storage areas bombed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in 2011. An investigation by UNSMIL into a 15–16 August 2019 attack on Zuwarah Airport, that caused two casualties, found RBK-500 cluster munition remnants at the site.[30]

ERW contamination

Ongoing conflict has resulted in significant ERW contamination in many cities and urban areas. The presence of ERW not only poses a significant risk to civilians but impedes humanitarian access and obstructs IDPs from returning home. Exacerbating the problem of ERW is the presence in Libya of the world’s largest uncontrolled ammunition stockpile. UNMAS reports that there are between 150,000–200,000 tons of uncontrolled munitions across the country.[31]

Casualties

Casualties overview[32]

Casualties

All known casualties (2008–2019)

3,351 (436 killed, 2,909 injured, 6 unknown outcome)

Casualties in 2019

Annual total

25 (decrease from 74 in 2018)

Survival outcome

11 killed, 14 injured

Device type causing casualties

9 antivehicle mines, 10 improvised mines, 6 ERW

Civilian status

15 civilians, 10 military

Age and gender

12 men, 5 children (1 girl, 4 unknown), 8 unknown

Note: ERW=explosive remnants of war.

 

Casualties in 2019: details[33]

In 2019, 25 casualties were recorded in Libya. The casualty total for 2019 includes five casualties —three people killed and two injured—from an explosion caused when a military vehicle carrying ERW was hit by a civilian car in Qawarisha, southern Benghazi, on 10 April 2019.

In January 2019, UNSMIL reported that three civilians were injured by an ERW whilst collecting scrap metal in Sabha. In February 2019, three boys—aged between nine and 15—were injured by a grenade which exploded as they were collecting scrap metal in Kuweifiya, Benghazi.[34] UNSMIL did not report on civilian conflict casualties after March 2019, but resumed their regular reporting in 2020. Casualty data in Libya was not complete or comprehensive, and lacked key details. Some data for 2019 has reportedly not been entered into the national information management system.[35]

An overall lack of reliable data collection, and inconsistent availability of data, has hampered the possibility of establishing reliable trends related to mine/ERW casualties in Libya. The number of recorded annual casualties has fallen from 184 in 2017, to 74 in 2018 and 25 in 2019; representing a substantial drop from 1,610 casualties reported for 2016 and 1,004 casualties reported for 2015.

However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which reported most of the data for 2016 (1,465 casualties), has not reported information on mine/ERW casualties among the war wounded people treated at ICRC-supported medical centers since then. Humanity & Inclusion (HI), which provided most of the data for 2015 (935 casualties), was unable to collect data from the same hospital sources in 2016. The 2015 and 2016 figures represented drastic increases on the 10 casualties reported for 2014, when data was limited and incomplete. In 2014, many operators were forced to leave Libya amid a deteriorating security situation, and many mine/ERW casualties went unrecorded.[36]

Mine/ERW casualties in Libya continued to be reported throughout 2020, with at least 138 civilian casualties noted in mid-year media reports, including 55 people killed by newly laid mine types.[37]

The total number of casualties over time in Libya is unknown, as many estimates predate the 2011 conflict. The Monitor has recorded 3,351 mine/ERW casualties in Libya from various sources since 2008, with all but 32 of these occurring after 2011. The Libyan Demining Association (LDA) and Libyan Civil Defense Department (LCDD) had registered 1,852 mine casualties by the end of 2006.[38] Previous estimates indicated around 12,000 casualties, 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.[39]

Cluster munition casualties

The total number of cluster munition casualties in Libya is not known.

There were two cluster munition casualties reported in Libya in 2019, resulting from an attack on Zuwarah Airport in August.[40]

Previous to this attack, the last cluster munition casualties reported were from cluster munition remnants. 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, either due to a lack of disaggregated data, or because it was not possible to distinguish the specific type of explosive remnants that caused those casualties.

Addressing the impact

Mine action

Operators and service providers

Clearance operators[41]

National

Libyan Military Engineers

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

Libyan Police

Free Fields Foundation (3F)

Arab Mine Action Consultancy Crew (AMACC)

International

 

Dan Church Aid (DCA)

Danish Demining Group (DDG)

Humanity & Inclusion (HI)

The HALO Trust

 

Clearance

No clearance of antipersonnel landmines or cluster munition remnants was reported in Libya in 2019. In 2018, operators were reported to have destroyed 26,144 items of ERW totaling 203 tons, releasing 674,087km2 of land back to communities for use. [42]

More than one million items of ERW, and approximately 54 tons of small arms ammunition, have been cleared in Libya since 2011.[43] Until a systematic nationwide survey is completed, the extent of mine/ERW contamination in the country will remain unknown.

During 2019, LibMAC’s operations section opened 84 tasks mostly for non-technical survey (NTS), risk education and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations, performed by international and local NGOs, military engineers and the police in Tripoli, Sirte and Benghazi. LibMAC personnel conducted 52 quality assurance and quality control missions and 23 accreditation procedures.[44]

In 2019–2020, UNMAS supported EOD response, risk education, and NTS activities in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, and Tawergha, in order to facilitate humanitarian activities, early recovery, and prepare for the safe return of IDPs to those areas.[45]

Since 2015, UNMAS has been training civil defense and military engineers in advanced EOD. UNMAS has also provided technical support to the police force with respect to tackling IED contamination and the forensic response required.[46]

DanChurchAid (DCA) has been operational in Libya since 2011, working in Benghazi, Derna, and Sirte to undertake NTS, EOD spot tasks and clearance.[47] Danish Demining Group (DDG) has also been active in Libya since 2011, working in Al Shati and Benghazi on EOD and in partnership with Free Fields Foundation (3F).[48]

The HALO Trust has been active in Libya since 2018 and is currently working in Sirte, conducting mechanical rubble clearance in areas of the city worst affected by conflict. The HALO Trust also has offices in Tripoli and Misrata.[49]

Humanity & Inclusion (HI) conducted a large-scale mine action program in Misrata, Tripoli, and Sirte from 2011–2014. HI re-established an office in Benghazi at the end of 2018 and was conducting risk education and EOD in Tawergha, but these activities ceased in mid-2019 and have not yet resumed.[50]

International operators have been impacted by the ongoing hostilities in Libya, particularly since the April 2019 LNA offensive, which has resulted in technical staff being outside of the country for extended periods. Ongoing conflict and insecurity have also posed a challenge to procurement and supply chains, affecting the import of goods and equipment necessary for mine action.[51]

In November 2020, Libya stated that demining operators in the country faced extreme challenges given the exceptional circumstances, and a lack of logistical means and personnel, techniques, and equipment. However, Libya reported that limited progress was made in 2020 during talks on mine clearance under UN auspices. Libya also confirmed the importance of mine clearance for stability and security, and in its contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular those related to the environment, safe cities, agriculture, economy and infrastructure.[52]

Risk Education

Operators and service providers

Risk education operators[53]

Type of organization

Name of organization

Type of activity

Governmental

LibMAC

Coordinates risk education programs with the technical support of UNMAS

Ministry of Education

Coordinates provision of risk education in schools

National

Free Fields Foundation (3F)

Delivers risk education in partnership with UNICEF

Libyan Red Crescent Society (LRCS)

Delivers risk education in partnership with UNICEF

International

DanChurchAid (DCA)

Provides risk education alongside survey and clearance; trains Libyan civil society organizations on delivery of risk education sessions and messaging

Danish Demining Group (DDG)

Provides risk education in Misrata, Obari, Sabha, Sirte, Tawargha, and Tripoli

Humanity and Inclusion (HI)

Delivered risk education alongside NTS up until June 2019, when escalating insecurity meant that operations were forced to cease. During 2019, HI risk education was also integrated into provision of physical and psychosocial rehabilitation services

The HALO Trust

Provides risk education and distributes leaflets door-to-door ahead of rubble clearance operations in Sirte

UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Provides risk education in Tawargha and Tripoli

UNMAS

Provides risk education messaging to children and adults, and provides risk awareness training to UN staff

 

Beneficiary numbers

Beneficiary numbers 2019[54]

Operator

Men

Boys

Women

Girls

LibMAC

8,848

18,922

7,920

17,077

UNICEF

4,637

4,088

2,588

3,546

The HALO Trust

89

1

93

0

 

In addition to the three organizations whose disaggregated figures are listed in the table above, HI delivered risk education to 5,979 beneficiaries in 2019. Of these, 3,704 were children, while 2,275 were adults. Of the total number of HI beneficiaries, 62% were girls and women.[55]

Between 2016 and August 2020, UNMAS delivered risk education to more than 166,000 people in Libya, including 122,794 children and 43,457 adults. UNMAS provided risk education training to 217 UN staff during 2019 and in the first half of 2020.[56]

Implementation

Risk education is an integrated part of EOD and clearance operations by DCA, DDG, HI and The HALO Trust, and is largely conducted in urban areas. Hotline numbers are provided through risk education, enabling people to report ordnance. Due to the diversity of ERW present in Libya, providing clear messaging on ERW recognition can be challenging.[57]

The HALO Trust specifically conducts risk education as part of its community liaison strategy, to explain its mechanical clearance operations in Sirte. This includes door-to-door leafleting ahead of clearance, and ad hoc risk education at the task site. In addition to informing communities of the operations, awareness is raised regarding the presence of ERW in rubble and damaged buildings.[58]

Risk education is also provided in conjunction with health and protection activities. HI conducted risk education alongside physical and functional rehabilitation, mental health, and psychosocial support services, with risk education also identifying and referring victims to services.[59] DCA projects combine risk education, EOD and battle area clearance (BAC) with non-food items distribution, armed violence reduction, and psychosocial support.[60]

Risk education briefings and safety training are also provided by some operators to humanitarian workers. In 2019, HI teams trained 22 field staff from other organizations working in contaminated areas.[61]

Target groups

Children were reported to be most at risk of being killed or injured by explosive hazards due to their natural curiosity, mobility and lesser awareness and knowledge of the threat. When surviving accidents, children usually need continuous care and follow-up as their needs change often while they grow, which is challenging in Libya due to limited access to healthcare.[62]

The ongoing conflict in Libya has led to a large number of IDPs. In 2017, over 60,000 IDPs were reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to have returned to Sirte following the defeat of the Islamic State.[63] IDPs are considered particularly vulnerable to the threat from mines/ERW due to their unfamiliarity with hazardous areas, and their increased economic and social vulnerability following displacement.[64] LibMAC reported that since the end of May 2020, the number of civilian accidents related to ERW increased as a result of IDPs returning to their homes in southern Tripoli. Risk education efforts were scaled up in response.[65]

Operators noted that women were often difficult to reach through risk education. They tend to have lower levels of access to information than men, and are harder to reach due to social and cultural norms. The HALO Trust reported conducting separate risk education events for women in women-only spaces, and integrated them with other awareness-raising campaigns. In Sirte, The HALO Trust reached out to 90 women at an event informing women about breast cancer screening.[66]

New developments in 2019 and 2020

LibMAC, in collaboration with UNICEF, reached child IDPs and their caregivers through its local partners, 3F, and the Libyan Red Crescent Society (LRCS), including during emergency relief distributions, and provided risk education through two local radio stations.[67]

In 2019, DCA conducted a mass media campaign in Libya, providing risk education messages through billboards, radio, text messages, and public distribution of awareness-raising materials to reach at-risk communities, including IDP households.[68]

In 2019, UNICEF was in consultation with LibMAC and the Ministry of Education with a view to introducing key risk education messaging into the national school curriculum.[69]

As part of The HALO Trust’s support to the national COVID-19 response in Libya, their risk education leaflet was redesigned to include messaging on good hygiene practices. These leaflets were distributed in Sirte.[70]

From March 2020, COVID-19 hygiene messages and key risk education messages were combined on posters and stickers used by LibMAC, UNICEF, and 3F, which were approved by the National Centre for Disease Control. The dissemination of risk education messages through social media, radio, and TV and the installation of billboards was also scaled up in 2020.[71]

Victim assistance

Victim assistance providers and activities

Victim assistance operators[72]

Type of organization

Name of organization

Type of activity

Governmental

Ministry of Social Affairs

Provides basic financial assistance to survivors through the Social Solidarity Fund; facilitates access to physical rehabilitation services

LibMAC

Has a dedicated victim assistance department, but with few activities since 2015

National

Psychosocial Support Team

Provides home-based psychosocial support

International

Humanity & Inclusion (HI)

Provides health, rehabilitation and psychosocial support services in Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli; also manages a referral system, and a hotline in Tripoli and Benghazi for support and self-referrals

Needs assessment

According to LibMAC and UNMAS, there is a general lack of casualty data collection, but overall, they report that only 12% of households that include persons with disabilities have adequate access to healthcare, while only 15% could access adequate physical rehabilitation services. Only 5% of these households were able to access the mental health services required. Mine/ERW survivors in Libya face significant barriers to their full socio-economic inclusion.[73]

Medical care and rehabilitation

The primary barriers preventing mine/ERW survivors from accessing health services in 2019 were the lack of medical staff, limited medical supplies and inadequate financial support to pay for care. According to UNOCHA’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, 17.5% of hospitals, 20% of primary healthcare facilities, and 18 specialized hospitals were either partially or completely damaged due to conflict.[74] Persons with disabilities without access to healthcare are the most vulnerable group, and comprise the priority target group for the national health sector response.[75]

In 2019, the primary unmet needs were identified as physical therapy and rehabilitation, especially in Ajdabiya, Benghazi, Misrata, Sabha, Tripoli, and Ubari; the provision of wheelchairs, especially in Al Jufra, Sabha, Sirt, and Tripoli; and the provision of other assistive devices, especially in Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Al Jufra, Al Kufra, Al Marj, Sabha, and Ubari.[76]

No significant change was recorded since a 2016 HI report found that Libya’s rehabilitation system was underdeveloped, and did not have the level of capacity required to address the needs of people with injuries and persons with disabilities.[77] Libya’s rehabilitation sector lacks the raw materials needed for prosthetics, also suffering from a lack of qualified staff, lack of high-quality prosthetics, orthotics and mobility devices, and limited inpatient/outpatient capacity.[78]

Persons with disabilities who needed assistive devices and wheelchairs were generally required to purchase them with private funds, and either had to approach local charities for support or become registered with the Social Solidarity Fund, under the Ministry of Social Affairs, to be eligible for a device. However, eligibility criteria for the Social Solidarity Fund remained unclear, and not all persons with the same impairments qualify.

LibMAC has a dedicated victim assistance department. However, the department has undertaken few activities since 2015 due to a lack of specific funding for victim assistance, limited technical capacity and difficulty coordinating with relevant ministries on data collection and coordination.[79]

HI is the only mine action operator that conducts activities integrating victim assistance in Libya. HI runs a broad program supporting vulnerable persons with disabilities—including mine/ERW survivors—to access health, rehabilitation and psychosocial support services in Benghazi, Misrata, and Tripoli. HI relies on outreach teams of social workers who identify people in need of support, based on vulnerability criteria. HI has established a referral system to help ensure beneficiaries’ access to services. HI also operates a hotline in Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as a Facebook page in order to receive direct requests for support and self-referrals.[80]

HI donated assistive devices directly to persons with disabilities and injuries, and also to the Social Solidarity Fund for their own distribution, as their stocks have been limited for several years. The health system lacks 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 near Tripoli, was no longer functioning. In 2018, another rehabilitation center closed in Misrata.[81]

Socio-economic and psychosocial inclusion

The Ministry of Social Affairs provides basic financial assistance of LYD450 (US$330) per month to mine/ERW survivors through the Social Solidarity Fund. As of December 2018, 1,460 eligible mine/ERW survivors were receiving financial assistance through this fund. The Ministry of Social Affairs also provides access to physical rehabilitation services.[82]

Psychological and psychosocial support for mine/ERW victims is neglected in Libya, and service providers were scarce.[83] There was 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.[84] Mental health services were available in only eight districts in Libya.[85]

Cross-cutting

HI trained community focal points, tasked with identifying IDPs with disabilities and those in need of psychosocial support.[86]

While there was a good safety net for vulnerable people in Libya, including persons with disabilities and mine/ERW survivors, this did not apply to foreigners, including migrants.[87]

 


[1] See: Human Rights Watch (HRW), ‘‘Libya: Landmines Left After Armed Group Withdraws,’’ 3 June 2020; and ICBL-CMC, ‘‘Country Profile: Libya: Mine Ban Policy,’’ updated 18 December 2019.

[2] United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), ‘‘Programmes: Libya,’’ updated October 2020.

[4] Lance Malin, “Libya – The Toxic and Explosive Legacy of Modern Conflict,” UNMAS presentation at the 23rd International Meeting of Mine Action Directors, Geneva, 11–14 February 2020.

[5] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[6] Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 28.

[7] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[8] See, LibMAC, “Libyan Mine Action Standards,” undated; and Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 32.

[9] LibMAC, “About us,” undated.

[10] UNMAS, “Programmes: Libya,” updated October 2020.

[11] ITF Enhancing Human Security, “Annual Report 2019,” 24 April 2020, p. 75.

[12] Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 32; response to Monitor questionnaire by Nadine Lainer, Programme Officer, HALO Trust, 20 April 2020; and by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[13] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[14] LibMAC, “Libyan Mine Action Standards,” undated.

[15] For further detail on government focal points, see Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 28. For coordination mechanisms, see Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 32; response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, HI Libya, 20 May 2020; and Protection Cluster, ‘‘Libya Protection Sector Strategy 2020-2021,’’ 13 February 2020. For regularity and outcomes, see response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, HI Libya, 20 May 2020; and Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019. In relation to disability sector integration, the following specialized bodies coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs are responsible for the care of persons with disabilities: General Authority for the Social Security Fund; Centre for Training Persons with Disabilities, Benghazi; Centre for Training Persons with Disabilities, Janzur; National Commission for Persons with Disabilities. See, Libya, National Report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21, A/HRC/WG.6/22/LBY/15, May 2015, p. 15. Information on survivor inclusion obtained in presentation by Libya, 22nd International Meeting of National Mine Action Program Directors and UN Advisers, Geneva, 5 February 2019.

[16] US Department of State, “2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Libya,” February 2020, p. 29.

[18] Safa Alharathy, “HoR Speaker meets disabled people to discuss their needs,” The Libya Observer, 11 July 2020.

[19] Safa Alharathy, “Libya Constitution – Chapter Two,” The Libya Observer, 2 August 2017.

[20] Abdulkader Assad, “Libya's parliament passes referendum law, amends constitutional declaration,” The Libya Observer, 24 September 2018.

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

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

[24] Samy Magdy, “US military: Russian mercenaries planted land mines in Libya,” Washington Post, 15 June 2020.

[27] Statement of Libya, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 20 November 2020.

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

[29] C. J. Chivers, “Name the Cluster Bomb, an Update,” At War Blog, The New York Times, 2 February 2012.

[30] UN Security Council (UNSC), “Final report of the Panel of Experts on Libya established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1973 (2011),” S/2019/914, Annex 17, 9 December 2019.

[32] Historical casualty data obtained from ICBL-CMC, ‘‘Country Profile: Libya: Casualties,’’ updated 21 October 2018; Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), Curated Data File: Africa: 2018 and 2019; and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), Curated Data File: Libya 2018 and 2019. Casualty data for 2019 obtained through Monitor media scanning and analysis of ACLED data for calendar year 2019. See, Clionadh Raleigh, Andrew Linke, Håvard Hegre, and Joakim Karlsen, “Introducing ACLED-Armed Conflict Location and Event Data,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 47, Issue 5, 28 September 2010, pp. 651–660; and UNSMIL, “Human Rights Report on Civilian Casualties,” undated.

[33] Casualty data from ACLED unless stated otherwise.

[35] Audrey Torrecilla, “Victim Assistance in Libya Position Paper,” UNMAS Libya, September 2019, pp. 23–27.

[36] 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 Libya, 17 March 2015.

[37]Haftar landmines kill, injure 138 in Tripoli,” Anadolu Agency, 7 July 2020; and “Libya: '55 killed by mines planted by Haftar's militia',” Middle East Monitor, 13 August 2020.

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

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

[41] See, HI, ‘‘Libya,’’ undated; DDG, ‘‘Where We Work: Libya,’’ undated; Dan Church Aid, ‘‘Where We Work: Libya,’’ undated; HALO Trust, ‘‘The HALO Trust in Libya,’’ factsheet, undated; and HALO Trust, ‘‘Where We Work: Middle East: Libya,’’ undated.

[42] Audrey Torrecilla, “Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,” UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 32.

[43] UNMAS, ‘‘Programmes: Libya,’’ updated August 2020).

[44] ITF Enhancing Human Security, “Activities: Libya,” undated.

[45] UNMAS, ‘‘Programmes: Libya,’’ updated August 2020.

[47] DCA, “Where We Work: Libya,” undated; and DCA, “Enhancing the Safety and Security of Returnees in Conflict Affected Areas in Libya,” September 2019.

[48] DDG, “Where we work: Libya,” undated.

[49] HALO Trust, “Where we work: Middle East: Libya,” undated; and HALO Trust, “The HALO Trust in Libya,” factsheet, undated.

[50] HI, “Libya Country Card 2019,” July 2019; and response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[51] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[52] Statement of Libya, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 20 November 2020.

[53] Information on activities of risk education operators in Libya obtained from UNMAS, ‘‘Programmes: Libya,’’ updated October 2020; response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020; response to Monitor questionnaire by Nadine Lainer, Programme Officer, HALO Trust Libya, 20 April 2020; DCA, ‘‘Where We Work: Libya,’’ undated; and DDG ‘‘Where We Work: Libya,’’ undated.

[54] Risk education beneficiary numbers obtained from LibMAC presentation on risk education in Libya, during a webinar jointly organized by the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) Advisory Group and the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC), “Upholding the Oslo Action Plan in Times of COVID-19 – A Discussion on Risk Education,” 1 July 2020; UNICEF press release, ‘‘Over 15,000 individuals, including over 8,000 children received Explosive Ordnance Risk Education in Libya through UNICEF support in 2019,’’ 3 March 2020; and in response to Monitor questionnaire by Nadine Lainer, Programme Officer, HALO Trust Libya, 20 April 2020.

[55] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[56] UNMAS, ‘‘Programmes: Libya,’’ updated October 2020.

[57] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[58] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Nadine Lainer, Programme Officer, HALO Trust Libya, 20 April 2020.

[59] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[60] DCA, ‘‘Where We Work: Libya,’’ undated.

[61] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[62] Ibid.

[64] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Thomas Calvot, Country Manager, and Solene Waeselynck, Operations Officer, HI Libya, 20 May 2020.

[65] LibMAC presentation on risk education in Libya, during a webinar jointly organized by the EORE Advisory Group and ARMAC, “Upholding the Oslo Action Plan in Times of COVID-19 – A Discussion on Risk Education,” 1 July 2020.

[66] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Nadine Lainer, Programme Officer, HALO Trust, 20 April 2020.

[67] LibMAC presentation on risk education in Libya, during a webinar jointly organized by the EORE Advisory Group and ARMAC, “Upholding the Oslo Action Plan in Times of COVID-19 – A Discussion on Risk Education,” 1 July 2020.

[68] DCA, ‘‘Libya,’’ factsheet, March 2020.

[70] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Nadine Lainer, Programme Officer, HALO Trust, 20 April 2020.

[71] LibMAC presentation on risk education in Libya, during a webinar jointly organized by the EORE Advisory Group and ARMAC, “Upholding the Oslo Action Plan in Times of COVID-19 – A Discussion on Risk Education,” 1 July 2020.

[72] For details on victim assistance support provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs, see Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 28. For details on support from the Psychosocial Support Team and HI, see HI, “Libya Country Card 2019,” July 2019; Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, pp. 38–39; and response to Monitor questionnaire by Catherine Smith, Head of Mission, HI Libya, 12 March 2019.

[73] Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, pp. 10–11.

[75] Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 55.

[76] Ibid., p. 69.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Presentation of Libya, 22nd International Meeting of National Mine Action Programme Directors and UN Advisers, Geneva, 5 February 2019.

[79] Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019.

[80] Ibid., pp. 38–39; and response to Monitor questionnaire by Catherine Smith, Head of Mission, HI Libya, 12 March 2019.

[81] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Catherine Smith, Head of Mission, HI Libya, 12 March 2019.

[82] Audrey Torrecilla, ‘‘Victim Assistance in Libya: Position Paper,’’ UNMAS Libya, September 2019, p. 28.

[83] Presentation of Libya, 22nd International Meeting of National Mine Action Programme Directors and UN Advisers, Geneva, 5 February 2019.

[84] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Catherine Smith, Head of Mission, HI Libya, 12 March 2019.

[85] UNOCHA, “2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview: Libya,” 5 February 2019, p. 18.

[86] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Catherine Smith, Head of Mission, HI Libya, 12 March 2019.

[87] Interview with Audrey Torrecilla, Victim Assistance Consultant, UNMAS Libya, 14 February 2019.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 12 November 2020

 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 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 12 December 2019, Libya voted in favor of annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, which supports the universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Libya has voted in favour of the annual resolution consistently since 2012.[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 on the annual UNGA resolution.[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, transfer, and stockpiling

As the government of Muammar Gaddafi progressively lost control of the country in 2011, massive weapons 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 that Libya had 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 rocket-delivered antivehicle mines appeared in Benghazi in the possession of the Libyan National Army (LNA). Markings indicated they were manufactured in 2009. Use of this mine was first documented in 2011 in Misrata. 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

In May 2020, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) discovered significant mine contamination in areas of Tripoli vacated by rebels that month. The departing rebels were from a Russian government-linked military company, the Wagner group, which was fighting on behalf of Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Tobruk-based LNA. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported, “GNA-aligned forces shared photographs on Twitter on May 29 showing four types of antipersonnel landmines manufactured in the Soviet Union or Russia and claiming they were “laid by the Wagner mercenaries” in the Ain Zara, Al-Khilla, Salahuddin, Sidra, and Wadi al-Rabi districts of Tripoli. Other photographs shared on social media show mines equipped with tripwires and mines used as triggers to detonate larger improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Video footage shows various explosive charges used to booby-trap homes, including antivehicle mines, paired with various types of fuzes and a mix of electronic timers, circuit boards, and modified cell phones.”[12]

The new mine use was condemned by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL),[13] the President of the Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, H.E. Osman Abufatima Adam Mohammed,[14] and the ICBL.[15] The mines, both standard and improvised, caused casualties among civilians returning to the area. Between late May and early July 2020, UNSMIL reported 138 casualties, including clearance workers, due to the newly laid explosive devices[16] (see Casualties section). Previous sporadic reports of landmine use by militias active in Libya had emerged from time to time since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.[17] In May 2018, it was alleged that the Shura Council of the Mujahideen in Darna laid landmines while fighting forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar.[18] Civilians seeking food and fuel were also reported to have been killed by landmines during the conflict.[19]

A spokesman for the eastern LNA said 68 soldiers were killed and 45 injured by landmines in 2017.[20] Reports of civilian deaths and injuries continue to be reported in the local media.[21]

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.[22] 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 confirmed was partially surrounded by a minefield, marked only by a deteriorating fence.[23]



[1] Libya, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.40, 72nd Session, UN 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] Libya had previously abstained from the annual resolution between 1998 and 2011. 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] Libya was absent from the meetings of States Parties held in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, and the Second Review Conference held 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 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, in 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 Type-84 “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.

[17] For details, see: Landmine Monitor, “Country Profile: Libya: Ban Policy,” 9 October 2018.

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

[21]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.

[22] 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.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 16 November 2020

In 2019, Libya received US$24.1 million in international assistance to mine action from eight donors; this was similar to the annual level of funding received in 2017–2018.[1]

The European Union provided the largest contribution with $16.8 million for clearance, risk education activities, as well as other mine action operations that were not disaggregated by sector. This contribution represented 70% of the total international mine action assistance in Libya for 2019.

International contributions: 2019[2]

Donor

Sector

Amount

(national currency)

Amount

(US$)

European Union

Various

€15,000,000

16,791,000

United Kingdom

Clearance and risk education

£2,810,019

3,587,832

United States

Capacity-building and clearance

US$2,000,000

2,000,000

France

Clearance

€800,000

895,520

Sweden

Clearance

SEK7,000,000

739,926

Japan

Victim assistance

¥4,628,989

42,460

Netherlands

Clearance and risk education

€19,505

21,834

Switzerland

Clearance and risk education

CHF20,000

20,127

Total

 

N/A

24,098,699

Note: N/A = not applicable.

In the five-year period from 2015–2019, Libya received more than $92 million in international assistance for mine action. International funding has jumped from less than $7 million in 2015 to more than $20 million each year between 2017 and 2019.

Summary of international contributions: 2015–2019[3]

Year

Amount (US$)

2019

24,098,699

2018

27,478,854

2017

26,021,657

2016

7,976,805

2015

6,803,637

Total

92,379,652

 


[1] Email from Frank Meeussen, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, European External Action Service, 30 August 2020; emails from Yves Marek, Ambassador, Secretary General, National Commission for the Elimination of Anti-Personnel Mines (CNEMA), 27 July and 10 August 2020; Japan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 March 2020; Netherlands Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 2020; email from Kajsa Aulin, Assistant Health Affairs and Disarmament, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations in Geneva, 24 September 2020; Switzerland Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 28 April 2020; United Kingdom Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 2020; and US Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), “To Walk the Earth in Safety 2019,” 2 April 2020.

[2] Average exchange rates for 2019: €1=US$1.1194; £1=US$1.2768; CHF0.9937=US$1; SEK9.4604=US$1; and ¥1099.02=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2020.

[3] See previous Monitor reports.