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Country Reports
LIBYA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Libya has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. In October 1998, the Libyan representative stated to the UN General Assembly that the treaty was a significant step, but that “implementation of the instrument should be global and should also address the question of demining.... Libya [requires] technical assistance for demining efforts.”[1]

Libya attended several of the treaty preparatory diplomatic meetings, as well as the Oslo negotiations, but only as an observer in each case. Libya did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. Libya was absent for the pro-ban 1996 and 1997 UN General Assembly resolutions, and was one of only nineteen nations to abstain on the 1998 UNGA resolution welcoming new signatories to the treaty and urging its full implementation. Libya is not a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Libya is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Libya has imported mines, presumably mostly from the former Soviet Union.[2] Mines found in Libya include PDM-1M, PMN, and POMZ-2 types. The size and composition of Libya’s antipersonnel mine stockpile is unknown.

Libya planted mines during its 1977 war with Egypt. Palestinian refugees now camped in Libya have encountered these landmines.[3] Libya also planted mines from 1977 to 1987 in its conflict with Chad. Libya has used landmines as well for perimeter defense around both economically-important sites and military bases.

Landmine Problem

Libya is mined in the regions south of the Sahara, as well as in Benghazi. In addition, the beaches on the Gulf of Sidra and its borders with Egypt and countries to the south are known to be mined.[4] Estimates of the number of landmines in Libya vary. The U.S. State Department says that there are approximately 100,000 mines on Libya’s territory, the majority of which are World War II-era German, British, U.S., and Italian mines.[5] Libyan officials have stated that there are “millions of landmines buried in Libya.”[6]

Mine Awareness and Clearance

Libya has slowly begun to address its landmine problem. The Libyan People’s Army has carried out some demining, but lack of maps and technical expertise has hampered efforts. Libya has begun removing mines from the Benghazi region as well as from the Sahara region. While the clearance of the Benghazi region benefits local civilians there, the clearance of parts of the Sahara facilitate natural gas exploration. Libya signed an agreement with Italy in July 1997 to receive financial and technical aid for demining and to map known minefields for future clearance efforts. A joint Libyan-Italian fund would be established to finance the rehabilitation of affected areas and the training of specialists to treat affected people.[7]

Libya’s agriculture ministry estimates that the removal of mines buried on arable land will cost approximately 161.14 million dinars. The ministry estimates the loss of earnings from the non-use of mined arable lands to be about 511.47 million dinars, while it estimates the loss from non-use of mined grazing lands to pastures to be about 124.55 million dinars.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has distributed information kits on landmines to authorities in the North Africa region, although no specifics regarding Libya are known.[8]

Landmine Casualties

Libya has recorded a total of 11,845 landmine victims including 6,749 deaths. The break-down below was compiled by Libyan police.[9]




[1] Statement by Ibrahim Al-Besbas to the United Nations General Assembly, Press Release, GA/DIS/3116, 20 October 1998.

[2] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, 1993, p. 118.

[3] “Stranded Palestinians Face New Danger from Mines,” Reuters, 27 October 1995.

[4] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, 1993, p. 118.

[5] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, 1998, p. A-2.

[6] Statement by Ibrahim Al-Besbas to the UNGA, Press Release, GA/DIS/3116, 20 October 1998.

[7] Assembly Discusses International Mine Clearance Efforts, Urging Member States to Provide Resources and Information to Strengthen UN Mine Action Ability, Press Release GA/9505, Statement by Isa Babaa to the United Nations General Assembly, 17 November 1998.

[8] International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1996: Tunis, Regional Delegation (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco/Western Sahara, Tunisia), 1 June 1997.

[9] Cited in United Nations, Country Report: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/libyanar.htm.

[10] Information provided by Libyan Red Crescent.