Funding from the US State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement will see MAG increase its response to the emergency in Libya, deploying two teams of Explosive Ordnance Disposal experts to eastern Libya in the coming days.
WRA’s funding will allow MAG’s roving teams of experts to address the threat to civilians from items of deadly unexploded ordnance (UXO) that have been abandoned or have failed to detonate during the ongoing conflict.
MAG has had landmine clearance and weapons disposal experts assessing the situation in the country since 4 April.
MAG’s small team has already completed several tasks, including removing the remnants of rockets from several homes in Ajdabiya, as well as destroying 10 large bombs and 18 smaller missiles from in and around Benghazi. Despite these successes, a lot more work remains to be done.
Fred Gras, MAG Technical Field Manager, who is now heading up MAG’s emergency response in Libya said: “We’ve travelled around Benghazi and Ajdabiya in the last few weeks and have seen for ourselves the scale of the problem.
“We’ve seen numerous ammunition supply points and weapons stores that have been badly damaged, containing large numbers of explosive items and weapons that are not secured.
“This funding will help us to clean up and secure these stores so their dangerous contents don’t claim innocent lives, something we’ve seen happen all too often in the immediate aftermath of conflict in places like Iraq and Sudan.
“In Misrata the UXO problem is clearly going to be huge after weeks of shelling. There have also been reports of landmines and cluster munitions in the area, and MAG will be ready to respond to that situation as soon as the situation on the ground allows.
“Further east we’ve already found dozens of dangerous items, which are now in the process of being systematically removed and destroyed.
“It is vital to start removing the UXO and securing these depots as soon as possible and, wherever the security situation allows, reducing the risks they pose to thousands of Libyans already struggling to survive the violence. We’re grateful to WRA for supporting MAG in this emergency.”
In this initial phase, MAG’s activities will be centred on the towns of Benghazi and Ajdabiya, in collaboration with the National Transitional Council – the interim authority in the east of the country. MAG has also been working in close co-operation with other partner agencies in eastern Libya.
To date in Libya, MAG has already removed and destroyed nearly 100 deadly rockets, projectiles and missiles, including:
• Remnants of rockets from three homes in Ajdabiya;
• Two MK83 High Explosive bombs equipped with Joint Direct Attack Munitions guidance systems, and two High Explosive AGM 65 Maverick missiles, at the site of the US Air Force jet that crashed on farmland close to several houses outside Benghazi;
• 18 missiles from a GRAD multiple rocket launcher;
• Three 250kg aircraft bombs, three surface-to-air missiles, one 500kg aircraft bomb and two rocket-propelled grenades.
10 May 2011
Mike Fryer Information & Production Officer