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Country Reports
LIBYA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: Libya abstained on the UNGA vote in support of the Mine Ban Treaty, but attended the First Meeting of States Parties and several intersessional meetings.

Mine Ban Policy

Libya has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Libya was one of twenty countries to abstain on the vote for UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B in support of the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1999. As explanation, a Libyan representative stated that Libya “opposed the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of landmines, but viewed the Ottawa Convention as only a first step.”[1]

A Libyan delegation attended the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999 as an observer. Libya said this was a very important meeting which “marked a new stage in international demining efforts.”[2] Libya attended the ban treaty Intersessional Standing Committee of Experts meetings on General Status of the Convention in January 2000, Mine Clearance in March 2000, and Stockpile Destruction in May 2000.

Libya argues that the treaty is flawed because it does not require states that laid mines to clear them, nor that these states provide compensation and technical assistance for mine clearance and victim assistance. Libya regards its primary mine problem as dating back to World War II where the former Allied and Axis forces laid thousands of antipersonnel and antitank mines during various battles in the deserts of North Africa.

Libya has not signed the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, and is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Libya is not known to have produced or exported AP mines. Libya has imported mines from the former Soviet Union, including the POMZ-2 and the POMZ-2M AP fragmentation mines.[3] The size and composition of Libya’s AP mine stockpile is not known.

Libya is believed to have deployed antipersonnel mines during its border conflict with Egypt in 1977 and also during its border conflict with Chad between 1977-1987. Libya is also believed to have deployed mines for protection of strategically and economically important locations within Libya.[4]

Landmine Problem

Libya suffers from heavy mine and UXO contamination as a result of the North African campaign of World War II. In addition to the deserts, there are minefields close to ports and urban areas, such as the towns of Tubruk and Benghazi.[5] There are also mines on the borders with Egypt and Chad, although the exact locations or numbers of mines is not known. Mines believed to be left over from World War II hostilities include:[6]

Riegalmine 43, Tellermine 35, Tellermine 42 and Tellermine 43 AT mines and S-Type bounding fragmentation AP mines.
B-2 and B-3 AT mines and B-5 AP mine
Model 36 AT mine
United Kingdom:
Mk.5 and Mk.7 AT mines and Mk.2 AP mines

[7] Of this total, the Libyan government estimates that there are 1.5 to 3 million mines on its territory. The table below provides partial details:[8]

Location of mines
Estimated Number
Area (square meters)
Al-Mechili to Darna
Al-Mechili toAbiar
Benghazi to Ghemines
Marsa Brega

Libya appears not to classify all explosive devices deployed on its territory as mines, which suggests that these figures are estimated totals for mines only (including antitank). Photographs provided to researchers of mine clearance work in Libya suggest that the majority of explosive devices removed are categories of UXO rather than mines (including artillery shells, bombs and grenades).[9]

Mine Clearance

Mine clearance in Libya is undertaken by the explosives division of the police force, which also trains local people in demining techniques. There are also some private companies involved in mine clearance, whose work is linked to oil, gas, and mineral exploration. It is not known if any comprehensive records are available as to the number of mines removed or the area of land cleared in Libya.

Libya has noted that a lack of accurate maps and historical records has made mine clearance particularly hazardous and difficult.[10] In 1998, Italy, largely due to its colonial connection, signed an agreement with Libya to provide access to Italian historical records, provide technical assistance and training for Libyan deminers, as well as support for mine casualties (see below for more details).[11]

Due to Libya’s political isolation from many Western countries, the UK and Germany have not as yet provided Libya with access to historical records from the Second World War. The records and maps that do exist are known to be extremely patchy.[12] With the recent improvement in diplomatic and political relationships, Libya hopes that the UK and Germany will provide access to this information as well as offering technical assistance for mine clearance in the near future.

Mine Awareness, Mine Casualties, and Victim Assistance

The Libyan government has stated that it provides mine awareness and training programs to warn people of the dangers of mines, although no further information is known.[13] It is believed that these training programs include the training of civilians in mine clearance techniques.[14]

All mine incidents in Libya must be reported to the police,[15] but it is doubtful that accurate records exist for the numbers of mine-related incidents and mine victims in Libya. Some data on mine victims is collected, although this appears not to be done on a countrywide basis. For example, in the mine-affected municipality of Tobruk, the Libyan Historical Studies Center, a state-funded research institute, maintains detailed case study records of all mine incidents that have occurred in the area since the 1970s.[16]

Figures regarding mine casualties that are available from various sources show a fairly wide degree of variance. Figures provided to the UN suggest that from 1940 to 1975 there were 5,670 mine-related deaths and at least 4,935 mine-related injuries.[17] The Libyan Police have stated that from 1940 to 1995 there were 6,749 mine-related deaths and 5,096 injuries.[18] A statement provided by the Libyan government to the UN General Assembly in November 1999 cites a figure of 4,000 mine-related deaths.[19]

Although there are no specific mine-related victim assistance measures, all injuries are treated by the state and medical care is free. Moreover, Italy has agreed to provide several types of assistance, including the construction of a mine injury hospital, cooperation between the Italian Red Cross and the Libyan Red Crescent, and the treatment of victims in Italy where necessary (including the provision of artificial limbs for amputees).[20]


[1] Explanation of vote by Libyan Representative, UNGA First Committee, UN Press Release GA/DIS/3162, 8 November 1999.
[2] Statement by the Libyan Delegation to the UN General Assembly, Plenary Meeting Agenda Item 35: Assistance in Mine Action, New York, 18 November 1999.
[3] Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance, Third Edition 1998-99, Jane’s Information Group, p. 603.
[4] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999 for more details on this.
[5] Interviews with Dr. A.H. Ammar, May 2000.
[6] The White Book, "Some Examples of the Damages Caused by the Belligerents of the World War II to the People of the Jamahiriya," Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Researchers wish to thank Dr. A. H. Ammar for this material.
[7] Statement by the Libyan Delegation to the UN General Assembly, New York, 18 November 1999.
[8] “The White Book, Some Examples of the Damages Caused by the Belligerents of the World War II to the People of the Jamahiriya,” Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
[9] Photographs provided by Dr. A. H. Ammar.
[10] Statement by the Libyan Delegation to the UN General Assembly; New York, 18 November 1999.
[11] This declaration was signed by the Foreign Ministers of Libya and Italy in Rome on 7 April 1998.
[12]See Egypt country report for more details.
[13]Statement by the Libyan Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, 18 November 1999.
[14] Interviews with Dr. A. H. Ammar, May 2000.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/libyannar.htm
[18] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 900-901.
[19] Statement by the Libyan Delegation to the UN General Assembly, 18 November 1999.
[20] Joint Declaration between Italy and Libya, Rome, 7 April 1998.