More than 1 million explosive remnants of war (ERW) and approximately 54 tonnes of small arms ammunition have been cleared in Libya since 2011.
Since 2016, more than 166,000 people received Explosive Ordnance Risk Education, including 122,794 children and 43,457 adults, to help them live more safely with the threat of ERW. In addition, UNMAS provided risk awareness training to 217 UN staff in 2019 and 2020 to increase knowledge and promote safe behaviour.
Since 2015, UNMAS Libya has developed the capacity of more than 275 nationals in all aspects of mine action.
UNMAS deployed to Libya in March 2011 and was integrated into the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) as the Arms and Ammunition Advisory Section in July 2012. When major hostilities resumed between rival political factions in 2014, the UN temporarily relocated the majority of its staff to Tunisia. UNMAS managed its operational activities and coordination support remotely until January 2019, when most UN staff returned to Tripoli. Due to the hostilities that commenced in April 2019 and the deterioration of security, most UN staff are operating remotely from Tunisia again, with a limited number of personnel in Tripoli.
Six years of recent fighting has been predominantly concentrated in urban areas. The level of violence and destruction has far surpassed that experienced during the nine-month revolution in 2011. The ongoing conflict has resulted in significant ERW contamination in numerous cities and has impacted public infrastructure such as schools, universities and hospitals. The number of Internally Displaced Persons and returnees in Libya is estimated to be 401,836 and 457,324, respectively and there is little prospect of safe return until Non-Technical and/or Technical Surveys, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) spot-tasks, and/or Battle Area Clearance are carried out.
UNMAS has continued operations in Libya since its arrival in 2011 and its support continues to be important to assist communities, UNSMIL, and humanitarian partners to mitigate the threat from explosive devices. UNMAS activities contribute to humanitarian operations, stabilisation activities, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
IOM- DTM Round 30, April 2020
UNMAS contributes to the achievement of UNSMIL mandated objectives and those of the Humanitarian Country Team and the UN Country Team through three pillars of activities:
Protection of Civilians
ERW contamination is severe in some urban areas, impacting civilians even after violence abates. UNSMIL civilian casualty reports in 2020 note dramatic increases in civilian casualties from the escalation in the conflict. Ground fighting was the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by ERW. The presence of ERW threatens lives, impedes the safe return of internally displaced persons, and impedes access for humanitarian actors to provide or restore basic services. UNMAS works with partners to mitigate the threat posed by ERW by liaising with Libyan authorities to implement Humanitarian Mine Action activities and to facilitate coordination with stakeholders. In 2019/20 UNMAS has provided EOD response, Explosive Ordnance Risk Education, and Non-Technical Surveys in various locations including Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, and Tawergha to facilitate humanitarian activities, early recovery, and to prepare for the safe return of displaced people. In addition, UNMAS has conducted workshops and research on Victim Assistance to provide strategic guidance for future engagement.
Arms and Ammunition Advisory Role
Unsafe and insecure storage of arms and ammunition, as well as their illicit proliferation, continues to pose a serious challenge to security and stabilisation. As UNSMIL’s Arms and Ammunition Advisory Section, UNMAS completed the collection and disposal of approximately 200 tonnes of ERW from ammunition storage areas in Misrata in 2019; and provided technical advice, project management, and completed essential construction at a missile fuel storage site in Gharyan to prepare it for the future disposal of hazardous liquid missile fuel. To help mitigate the threat from improvised explosive devices, UNMAS trained 32 Forensic Police in Device Scene Incident Management. Building on similar previous projects, UNMAS is carrying out a series of trainings to empower Libyan youth to deliver Small Arms and Light Weapons risk awareness to assist in strengthening community resilience and to help reduce gender-based violence.
Capacity enhancement of national mine action actors
UNMAS prioritises the capacity enhancement of Libyan mine action actors and supports the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC) in accreditation processes for mine action organizations, and facilitates coordination with international stakeholders and Implementing Partners. Since 2015, UNMAS has trained over 70 National Safety Authority operators and Military Engineers in advanced EOD; trained 30 officers from eastern Libya in Non-Technical Survey; trained 11 Air Defence Officers in Ammunition and Chemical Safety; provided advanced medical first responder training to 72 EOD operators from Benghazi; and trained several operators to address explosive hazard threats in Sirte. UNMAS also increased capacity through the provision of EOD equipment to national actors and assisted the LibMAC in developing the Libyan Mine Action Standards which are now being implemented.
UNMAS faces a significant funding shortfall for humanitarian mine action projects, arms and ammunition management activities, and capacity building initiatives. UNMAS aims to support the implementation of these activities in close cooperation with local and international implementing partners. Furthermore, UNMAS seeks resources to re-initiate training and implementation of surveys at ammunition storage areas, which were halted due to security conditions, as well as critical operations to support ceasefire processes and peace initiatives.
(Data updated: August 2020)