Children of Libya still at risk after the fighting stops
The fighting in Libya may finally be over but children like Nurden, pictured below, still face a significant threat from unexploded bombs and the high number of weapons left over from the conflict.
Merlin has seen the number of accidental injuries and deaths rise sharply over the past week, as fighters carrying loaded weapons return to their homes following the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
Three children in Nalut Town in the Nafusa Mountain region, where Merlin is based, have been injured or killed this week alone, including 12-year-old Nurden, who was seriously wounded by an explosive near his home.
“Merlin’s staff were on hand to help when Nurden was brought into the A&E department last week with blast injuries to his right hand and abdomen. He had been playing with an explosive near his home when it detonated.
"On arrival to the hospital he underwent emergency surgery on his abdomen and corrective surgery to repair his intestine. Merlin has assisted with his post-operative care, and although he is now stable and making great progress, there is a risk of permanent nerve damage to his right hand” said Merlin’s physiotherapist Joanna Woodrow.
Not all children are as lucky as Nurden, though, and awareness-raising activities are urgently needed, especially for children, to try to prevent more of these tragic accidents and unnecessary deaths.
During the conflict, weapons were handed to fighters from all sides. Gaddafi had also been purchasing and stockpiling arms from abroad for years and nobody knows for sure where these have all ended up.
Joanna adds: “It is children who are the most vulnerable to this danger due to their limited knowledge and understanding of weapons. As these are now readily available the potential for often fatal accidents to occur is very high.
"These issues are an ongoing threat to the Libyan people.”