News / Africa

Landmines in Libya Prolong Misery of War

A red flag, a sign of danger, is placed by landmines removed by the Libyan army to be destroyed later, during an operation to clear a landmine field near the coastal and border city of Tubruq, Libya, June 7, 2008 (file photo)
A red flag, a sign of danger, is placed by landmines removed by the Libyan army to be destroyed later, during an operation to clear a landmine field near the coastal and border city of Tubruq, Libya, June 7, 2008 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Elizabeth Arrott

As the fighting rages in Libya, human rights groups are looking to a longer term consequence of the war - the use of landmines.

The hazards of mortar fire and rocket attacks are bad enough, but Libyans must now face the renewed problem of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines.

There are reports that both sides in the conflict have been using them. Human Rights Watch accused government troops of placing mines last month south of Ajdabiya. And while a rebel commander vowed his forces would not use landmines, over the weekend, journalists reported seeing rebels burying the devices near Ajdabiya's eastern gate.  

Further north, Benghazi driver Tarek el Mehadawi said he is not so worried about the area around his hometown, but is concerned about other parts of the country.

Mehadawi said areas around Sirte, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, or the besieged city of Misrata would be likely places for the hidden munitions, but that it's very difficult to know their precise location.

Which is what makes the weapons so deadly. Most of the victims of landmines are civilians. In Libya, they would be the farmers and shepherds who walk the areas close to the roads where the mines are laid.

For Libyans, the problem is not new. Nearly 70 years after the armies of Britain and Germany fought pitched battles across North Africa, landmines from World War II remain buried beneath the sands.

Simon Brooks, head of the Benghazi mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the solution is two-pronged.

"Right from the period of the second world war, up to the present day, this country has a significant weapons contamination issue. And obviously, this is an area in which the ICRC has developed a particular specialty, really on two fronts. One is the public education, the public awareness, and we would work very closely with the Libyan Red Crescent to respond to that."

Brooks said the second part is getting rid of the weapons, a long and arduous process, that they will undertake with authorities in Benghazi.  

"We need to coordinate, obviously with them, but also with other actors who would come here, because we wouldn't pretend that the dimensions of this problem is such that we would be able to get on top of it ourselves. And so, it's going to take an immense amount of effort. It is going to take a long-term engagement on our part."

There is perhaps a third step - stopping their use. Most countries do not allow anti-personnel mines, but Libya, along with the United States, China and Russia, has rejected a treaty to ban them.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid