As a result of last week’s request from the Higher Security Council (HSC) of Sirte for International NGO’s to evacuate the town, a total of 8 clearance teams have been unable to work. Whilst communications are on-going with the local authority to resolve the situation, the impact is significant, representing a 35% reduction in clearance capacities on the ground for the past two weeks. Similarly, a number of mine risk education teams are also stood down, preventing important risk education messages from being disseminated in an area that is one of the most highly impacted by explosive remnants of war.
However, JMACT partners continued their effort for Risk Education in other areas. In Misrata, more than 1,000 people received Risk Education sessions during this past week. This included sessions being provided by health workers who graduated from the Training of Trainers (ToT) course in May. Clearance operations continued in Misrata, Dafniya, the west of Misrata, Mitiga Airport and other areas.
During the week, the UNMAS Quality Assurance Officer and Ammunition Management Officer visited Al-Jufra to observe and review training programmes underway for Libyan nationals newly recruited to work on a recently Ammunition Management project. The project will focus on the assessment and rehabilitation of ammunition storage areas in Western Libya, with operations due to commence in Al-Jufra on 1 July.
Libya's landmine problem is one that dates back to the Second World War, but the bigger threat for Libyans today is not stepping on a landmine. Instead, it is Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Explosive Remnants of War and the threat posed from tampering; finding a small round or even a rocket and picking it up to move it or just to see what it is. Sadly, children are amongst the most prevalent victims as they are drawn to pick up items new to them through inherent natural curiosity without knowing the dangers they present.
That is why the work of UNMAS and its partners not only expands mine action to include UXO, but also reaches into the realms of weapons and ammunition management, and small arms and light weapons awareness. Security needs a holistic viewpoint: the more people know about the risk that weapons pose, and the more that can be stored in secure and up-to-standard facilities, the safer everyone will be.