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Territory: 1,775,500 km²

Population: 6.0 million

Estimated number of mines: unknown

Estimated contaminated area: unknown

Mine situation in Libya

The presence of mines in Libya dates back to the Second World War. The exact number of mines that were left after the war is unknown, but this number has considerably increased in the last years due to the ongoing conflict.

Even though Libya has a significant mine problem, it is among the countries that have not signed the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel mines. It has also yet to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and nevertheless cluster bombs pose a massive threat to the Libyan population.

Many thousand civilians have already died from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Libya and it is estimated that there are currently between 5,000 and 8,000 accident survivors.

Libyan Civil War 2011

On February 2011, protests in Benghazi ignited the beginning of an armed conflict between the forces of the then leader Colonel Gaddafi and the National Transitional Council. The Civil War did not end until the following September, when the National Transitional Council forces captured Tripoli and were recognized by the United Nations as the legal representative of Libya.

After the war, more than one million people were in desperate need of humanitarian aid. There was a strong need for fuel, food and medical supplies.

Since the end of the war there has been ongoing violence that led to the current armed conflict. The fighting continues between the Islamist government and several warlords and militia. 

DEMIRA in Libya

On July 2011, Marcia Hamzat, DEMIRA's programme manager, accompanied a medical aid delivery that was brought to a medical camp in central Benghazi, and then distributed to hospitals and health centers in the area. The delivery was composed mainly of dressing materials, surgical instruments and consumable supplies.

Hamzat was able to gain a first-hand overview of the situation, and gather information on what was needed in local hospitals. The director of Hawari General Hospital in Benghazi told her that the first shortages in supplies had been felt five months ago, and that for the last three months local hospitals had had no medical equipment at all.  As a consequence of the lack of new supplies the clinics were only operating at 50 percent of their total capacity. There was also an essential need for medical staff, since the majority of hospital nurses in Libya were foreigners who had left the country after the uprising in 2011.

During that mission it became clear, that there was need for help related with mine action too. Thus DEMIRA started a demining and battle area clearance campaign, accompanied by the training of local staff in the Libyan communities of Zliten and Hun.