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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs