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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid