Libya’s security environment has deteriorated significantly since the fall of long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In the absence of a strong central government and security forces, hundreds of armed groups, militias and militant organisations have become embroiled in a complex range of conflicts throughout the country. More recently a clearer division has occurred between two key groups: the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the western city of Tripoli, and the House of Representatives (HoR) based in the eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda. Various militias and armed groups are allied to the two rival governments, and each of the governments is battling Islamist militant groups with the support of international backers. Rival militias and militant groups are also embroiled in ongoing struggles for control of individual towns and cities.
Fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed large areas, including entire districts, of towns and cities. Fighting has left homes, schools and critical infrastructure littered with dangerous debris such as unexploded mortars, cluster bombs and other devices—all posing an immediate threat to life across Libya.
Furthermore, explosive contamination stops Internally Displaced People from returning home and is an obstacle to the rebuilding of the country. Humanitarian mine action agencies are conducting risk education and some surface clearance, but there is currently no capacity to conduct the technically-challenging clearance of collapsed buildings and rubble contaminated by explosive debris.
Only once clearance has been completed can the displaced make a dignified return home and the community as a whole begin to rebuild their lives in a safe environment.
Drawing on HALO’s 30 years of experience of mechanical clearance, we are introducing the use of armoured mechanical equipment and techniques to clear urban areas contaminated by explosive debris during Libya’s civil wars.
With thanks to funding from the UK Government, HALO, alongside an established humanitarian mine action agency is assessing and prioritising areas for mechanical clearance in the towns and cities most impacted by the fighting.
HALO is working closely with the national mine action centre to introduce the equipment, skills and techniques needed to clear urban areas and will begin clearance in 2019.