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Country Reports
Libya, Landmine Monitor Report 2007


Mine Ban Treaty status

Not a State Party





Estimated area of contamination

Extensive (unquantified)

Demining progress

7,957 APMs and 11,150 AVMs cleared August 2005-November 2006

MRE capacity


Mine/ERW casualties in 2006


Estimated mine/ERW survivors


Availability of services in 2006

Physical rehabilitation: increased-adequate

Other services: unchanged-inadequate

Key developments since May 2006

The Anti-Mines Association reported major demining operations on the borders with Chad and Egypt. In February 2007 it was agreed that GICHD will provide technical assistance and training.

Mine Ban Policy

The Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. There were no positive signals of progress toward accession in 2006 or the first half of 2007.

In August 2006 Libya’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva sent the International Campaign to Ban Landmines an “information note” from the Libyan Anti-Mines Association. The note states that while it “basically supports the humane objectives” of the Mine Ban Treaty, Libya has not joined because of three factors: “1. The legal right of the Jamahiriya to defend itself and to protect the national security of its vast borders. 2. There are no tangible obstacles against the operations of infiltration and illegal immigration to and from the Jamahiriya. 3. The states which implanted mines in Libyan territories should bear their historical and moral responsibilities for de-mining or assisting that operation through providing the required data and technology.”[1]

Libya has said that it would require too much money and human resources to fulfill the clearance obligations of the treaty.[2] Libya has complained that the treaty does not commit states that laid mines in other countries “to remove their landmines, compensate for the damages, or provide the necessary technical and financial assistance.”[3]

On 6 December 2006 Libya was one of 17 countries that abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 61/84 which promotes the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. It has abstained from voting on similar resolutions every year since 1998.

Libya did not attend the Seventh Meeting of State Parties in Geneva in September 2006.[4] It participated in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in April 2007, but not the Standing Committee meetings in May 2006.

In March 2007, Libya attended the fourth annual meeting of the nongovernmental Arab Network for Research on Landmines and ERW in Damascus, Syria. Libya was one of 13 governments participating, with NGO representatives. The Arab Network renewed its call for governments to ban antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions.[5]

In November 2006 the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations organized a landmine and explosive remnants of war side event during the German-Libyan Economic Forum in Tripoli.[6]

In October 2006 Libya hosted a meeting in Tripoli for the 5+5 group (the Western Mediterranean Dialogue) on landmines and explosive remnants of war. Participants included military experts from Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal and Tunisia.[7]

Libya is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

A Libyan official told Landmine Monitor that the country has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines, and that it no longer has a stockpile of antipersonnel mines.[8] Libya imported mines from the former Soviet Union, including POMZ-2 and POMZ-2M antipersonnel fragmentation mines, as well as from the former Yugoslavia, including PMA-3 blast mines.[9] Libya is not known to have used antipersonnel mines since its war with Chad from 1980-1987.

Landmine and ERW Problem

Libya is contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), mainly unexploded ordnance (UXO), as a result of the World War II campaign in North Africa, as well as wars with Egypt in 1977 and Chad in 1980-1987. The borders with Chad, Egypt and Tunisia are affected by mines and UXO, as are areas in the north and in the south of the country.[10]

The exact extent of the contamination in Libya is not known, as no survey has been conducted. There are no maps of mines on the border with Chad, but maps exist for those laid on the border with Egypt. Italy handed maps of World War II minefields over to Libya. In June 2005 Libya reiterated its call for other countries to hand over maps of minefields on Libyan territory.[11]

The human and economic impact of mines and ERW in Libya has not been quantified. In August 2006 the Anti-Mines Association stated that mine/ERW contamination has hindered several development projects in the eastern and middle regions, agricultural development, petroleum and gas exploration, and tourism projects.[12] In 2004 a Libyan official claimed there was a “massive” increase in the cost of an oil pipeline project as a result of uncleared ERW.[13]

Mine Action

Libya does not have a fully developed mine action program. However, in 2006 substantial progress was reported in the implementation of a new demining initiative. At the Tripoli Seminar on Removing Landmines on 12 May 2005, the President of the Gaddafi Foundation for Charity Associations announced the launch of a “national campaign” to remove landmines along the borders with Egypt and Chad.[14] In November 2006 it was announced that the campaign had the aim of clearing “around two million of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.” Operations started on 20 August 2005, at the Ozu and Sara minefields on the border with Chad; an agreement was made for operations to continue on the Chadian side of the border. In eastern Libya demining operations started on the border with Egypt, at the Ashoaba minefield, 90 kilometers south of Tobruk, and on the Ghara minefield, 30 kilometers east of Tobruk.[15]

The Anti-Mines Association reported in November 2006 that 7,957 antipersonnel mines and 11,150 antivehicle mines had been cleared in these operations. However, progress in demining on the border with Egypt had been limited by lack of cooperation from Egyptian authorities.[16]

The methods and standards used in these demining operations, and details of the mine action structures in Libya, have not been reported. A National Program for Demining and Land Reclamation, established by the General People’s Committee and headed by the Minister of International Cooperation, was also announced in 2005; it is unclear if this is a different initiative from that reported by the Anti-Mines Association.[17]

In February 2007, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the National Program signed a Cooperation Memorandum in which the GICHD offered to provide technical assistance and training for Libyan mine action personnel. The memorandum also envisaged discussions as to the installation of the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) in Libya.[18]

Previously, it has been reported that the Ministry of Defense is responsible for clearing areas serving either a military or civilian development purpose. The Civil Protection Unit, located within the Ministry of Interior and Justice, is also said to have carried out clearance in affected communities. Commercial companies have carried out clearance operations in support of the construction of oil pipelines. From World War II to 1981 Libya cleared 14.5 million landmines and ERW.[19]

Mine Risk Education

In 2006, mine risk education (MRE) was provided by the Anti-Mines Association.[20] On 16 August 2006 the association informed ICBL that, “The society participates directly in warning and raising awareness among the inhabitants of harmed regions concerning the methods and ways of mines as well as specifying the regions where mines can be found within the Jamahiriya and abroad.”[21] The association has organized MRE activities in east and southeast Libya. The targeted beneficiaries were children who received lectures on mines in schools and adults who were reached through local municipalities. MRE leaflets and booklets were distributed and placards were posted.

Reportedly, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense have their own MRE programs.[22]

The absence of a systematic data collection mechanism for mine/ERW incidents hampers the development of MRE projects.

Landmine/ERW Casualties

Landmine Monitor identified no new mine/ERW casualties in Libya in 2006 and from January to May 2007. Libyan officials continued to state that there are regular mine/ERW incidents, but there is no public data collection mechanism and incidents are not reported in the media.[23] According to the Anti-Mines Association, the Security Services and the Secretariat for Health and Social Solidarity collect casualty data but information was not made available to Landmine Monitor.

Reportedly, the Anti-Mines Association and the Libyan Civil Defense Department registered 1,852 mine casualties by the end of 2006; further details were not provided.[24]

It was estimated that there were 11,845 mine casualties between 1940 and 1995, including 6,749 people killed and 5,096 injured.[25] The Libyan Jihad Center for Historical Studies reported higher figures: 12,258 mine incidents, including 3,874 people killed and 8,384 injured, between 1952 and 1975.[26]

According to the League of Disabled, 3,081 amputees were recorded, representing five percent of all recorded people with disabilities. However, only 61,667 people are registered out of the estimated 160,000-200,000 people with disabilities.[27]

Survivor Assistance

Libya offers medical care in public hospitals free of charge to all its citizens. The two major health structures are located in Tripoli and Benghazi and have specialized schools for the training of medical staff. Smaller towns and villages have health clinics and mobile clinics, but most hospitals are in urban areas. Several hospitals are not functioning and lack capacity and equipment. Private healthcare is available but unaffordable for most.[28] In early 2007 the government announced a plan to stimulate health and education services in the private sector. Government staff salaries in the health sector and housing benefits would also be increased significantly.[29] The Libyan Red Crescent Society (LRCS) provides health services through its health centers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misurata, and has outpatient services in 48 other locations, especially in remote areas.[30]

The Social Solidarity Fund is responsible for providing rehabilitation services and assistance to people with disabilities through several referral centers for adults and children with physical disabilities and 21 daytime units. However, physical rehabilitation services and psychosocial assistance in Libya are reportedly inadequate to meet the needs of people with disabilities including mine/ERW survivors.[31]

The Benghazi Rehabilitation Center, run by the Social Solidarity Fund, is the referral center for eastern Libya with a catchment population of two million. The center provides services free of charge. It operates a hospital, an orthopedic workshop, and a physical rehabilitation center, as well as psychosocial support and vocational training services for people with disabilities. Renovations to the center, completed in mid-2006 with Italian support, aimed to provide better services to people with disabilities. The center employs 335 people and utilizes modern equipment. The outpatient department can assist 25 to 30 people per day and five to six new in-patients are treated per month. The center has not worked at full capacity due to lack of qualified staff, data management and erratic material supplies.[32]

The Anti-Mines Association stated on 16 August 2006 that it was established “to care for those who had been harmed, requalifying them and integrating them into society.”[33] The association provided financial aid to mine survivors, including paying for overseas treatment for mine/ERW casualties that could not be treated within Libya, and medical assistance through the hospitals in Benghazi and Tobruk.[34]

There are no international NGOs working on disability issues in Libya.[35] There are many local NGOs assisting people with disabilities.[36] Nevertheless, there is a general lack of awareness on disability and an insufficient social safety network for people with disabilities.[37]

The National Committee for Sponsoring those with Special Needs held its first meeting on 16 January 2007 in Tripoli. Work was started on disabled access to public places, employment and education.[38]

Libya has disability legislation providing a comprehensive social security system including medical and rehabilitation care and pensions for all citizens and foreigners living in the country, including people with disabilities.[39] However, the government “had limited effectiveness implementing provisions.”[40]

As of July 2007 Libya had not signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol allowing for the monitoring of disability activities.

[1] Information note from the Libyan Anti-Mines Association to ICBL, provided by Libya’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, Letter No. 348, dated 16 August 2006.

[2] See for example, Letter from Dr. Taher Siala, Chairman, National Program for Demining and Land Reclamation, Ministry of Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, to the NGO Protection, 22 August 2005.

[3] Statement by Amb. Najat M. Al-Hajjaji, Permanent Representative of Libya to the UN in Geneva, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 17 June 2005.

[4] Libya was registered to attend, but did not send a delegation.

[5] “Arab Network for Research on Landmines and ERW renews call for ban on landmines and cluster munitions,” 26 March 2007, www.icbl.org, accessed 14 June 2007.

[6] “Landmines and ERW expiation at the German-Libyan economic forum,” Almanarah (Tripoli), 15 November 2006. The foundation is headed by Saif al Islam Muammar al Gaddafi, the son of Libya’s President. At the May 2005 Tripoli Seminar on Removing Landmines, the first landmine event sponsored by the government and the first held in Libya, he called for the country to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.

[7] “5+5 meeting on landmines and ERW opens in Tripoli,” Panapress (Tripoli), 30 October 2006.

[8] Interview with Col. Ali Alahrash, Ministry of Defense, Geneva, 16 March 2004.

[9]Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance, Third Edition 1998-99, Jane’s Information Group, p. 603. Chad reported that in August 2003 it discovered 207 PMA-3 blast mines (ex-Yugoslav origin) in a container abandoned by the Libyan Army. Chad Article 7 Report, Form G, 27 May 2004; email from Michel Destemberg, Senior Technical Advisor, UNOPS/HCND, 5 July 2004.

[10] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 1006.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Information note from the Libyan Anti-Mines Association to ICBL, Letter No. 348, dated 16 August 2006.

[13] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 1006.

[14] Ibid, p. 1007.

[15] Letter from Najmeddin Aburawi, Anti-Mines Association, to ICBL, 26 November 2006.

[16] Ibid. The Anti-Mines Association was formed by the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations in 2004; see gdf.org.ly, accessed 9 May 2007

[17] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 1007-1008.

[18] “Cooperation Memorandum between the National Programme for Demining and Rehabilitation of Land and GICHD,” Tripoli, 8 February 2007.

[19]Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 1007-1008.

[20] See www.demining.org.ly, accessed 4 June 2007. Translated by HI.

[21] Information note from the Libyan Anti-Mines Association to ICBL, Letter No. 348, dated 16 August 2006.

[22] Telephone interview with Khaled Kanuni, Consultant, Anti-Mines Association, Tripoli, 5 June 2007.

[23]Telephone interview with Mohamed al-Banuni, Director of International Relations, Libyan Red Cross Society (LRCS), Benghazi, 7 June 2007; telephone interview with Khaled Kanuni, Anti-Mines Association, Tripoli, 5 June 2007.

[24] Telephone interview with Najmeddin Aburawi, Anti-Mines Association, Tripoli, 12 June 2007.

[25] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 953.

[26] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 817.

[27] Libyan-Italian Cooperation, “Support to the organizational development of Benghazi Rehabilitation Centre General Plan of Action 2005-2006,” p. 8.

[28] Ibid, p. 7.

[29]Al-Bawaba, “Libya to raise salaries of public sector employees,” www.al-bawaba.com, accessed 11 April 2007.

[30] Telephone interview with Mohamed al-Banuni, LRCS, Benghazi, 7 June 2007.

[31] Libyan-Italian Cooperation, “Support to the organizational development of Benghazi Rehabilitation Centre General Plan of Action 2005-2006,” p. 10.

[32] Embassy of Italy in Tripoli, “Italian Development Cooperation in Libya: Upgrading of the Benghazi Rehabilitation Center,” www.ambtripoli.esteri.it, accessed 6 June 2007; Libyan-Italian Cooperation, “Support to the organizational development of Benghazi Rehabilitation Centre General Plan of Action 2005-2006,” pp. 9-27.

[33]Information note from the Libyan Anti-Mines Association to the ICBL, Letter No. 348, dated 16 August 2006.

[34] Telephone interview with Khaled Kanuni, Anti-Mines Association, Tripoli, 5 June 2007.

[35] Email from Karine Maeckelberghe, Consul, Embassy of Belgium, Tripoli, 16 May 2006.

[36] Telephone interview with Jahda Kamal Abou Khalil, General Director, Arab Organization of Disabled People, Beirut, 7 June 2007.

[37] Libyan-Italian Cooperation, “Support to the organizational development of Benghazi Rehabilitation Centre General Plan of Action 2005-2006,” pp. 9, 17.

[38] “National Committee for Sponsoring those with Special Needs Meeting,” Jamahiriya News Agency-JANA (Tripoli), 16 January 2007, www.jananews.com, accessed 11 April 2007.

[39]See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 1010.

[40]US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006: Libya,” Washington, DC, 6 March 2007.