At the end of January 2018, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) completed phase one of its initiative to destroy Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) which have been endangering the lives of Misratan communities, and of the wider Libyan population.
More than 200 tonnes of ERW were successfully eliminated with the support of the Governments of Denmark and South Korea, generous contributors to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action.
While the 2011 armed conflict resulted in extensive contamination from a variety of explosive ordnance and landmines, the resumption of hostilities in 2014 exacerbated the problem immensely. The threat to the population from ERW is particularly high because a large amount of fighting took place in proximity to urban and other densely populated areas.
The national mine action authority, the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC), has since requested assistance in tackling this issue.
In response, UNMAS, in cooperation with the Danish Demining Group (DDG), enhanced the Libyan capacity to tackle the ERW threat through training in safe handling of ERW, provided to 20 national personnel.
Under international direction, the trained Libyan staff then destroyed 203 tonnes of ERW, thereby substantially decreasing the risk to life and limb of Misratan communities. The reduction of the ERW threat extends beyond Misrata, as unsecured explosive ordnance leads to proliferation of weapons and is then used to spread death and destruction across the country.
Over the years, looting and a number of unplanned explosions at the stockpile collection area, have reduced the size of the stockpile. However, 200 to 350 tonnes remain. UNMAS is currently assessing the extent of the remaining threat.
The next step is phase two of the initiative, which aims to destroy at least 200 more tonnes of ERW. Phase two is kindly supported by the Government of France.