Libya continues to face severe political crises, social division and economic challenges due to the continued instability and insecurity over the last eight years. The armed violence has displaced thousands of families, damaged vital infrastructure and critically impacted access to basic services, water, and shelter to the most vulnerable. According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2020, the conflict has affected approximately 1.8 million people, including 268,000 children. Dozens of children have been killed and injured by airstrikes, shelling, small arms fire, Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). To add on to the already worrying explosive ordnance contamination left from previous conflicts, the threat from explosive hazards has been further aggravated by the escalation of conflict in Tripoli in April 2019, clashes in Murzuq in August 2019, and the recent wave of intensified clashes around Tripoli which resulted in increased civilian casualties and displacement. This has had a negative impact on public infrastructure such as schools, roads and hospitals. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to mine and ERW incidents, and those who survive are likely to experience serious physical, psychological and social difficulties.
To mitigate the risks and vulnerabilities faced, UNICEF began emergency Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) for children, adolescents and caregivers in Tripoli and Tawargha in 2019, reaching out to internally displaced children and their caregivers in collective centres and shelters, child friendly spaces and Bayti centres, as well as schools, universities, clinics and other public gathering spaces. This was done in close co-operation with the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMac), in partnership with Free Fields Foundation (3F), and in collaboration with grassroots organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides Association and the Libya Red Crescent (LRC).
As a result, during 2019:
• 14,859 conflict affected individuals including displaced, refugees, migrants and returnees (7,634 children – 4,088 boys and 3,546 girls - and 7,225 adults – 4,637 men and 2,588 women) received community and school based Explosive Ordnance Risk Education, aimed at mitigating the likelihood of Mine and Explosive Remnants of War related incidents
• An estimated 245,000 individuals were reached through a radio EORE spot containing key safety messages, produced by UNICEF in partnership with Free Fields Foundation and broadcast on two local radio channels.
• Four Trainings of Trainers on EORE resulted in the accreditation of 42 community mobilizers by LibMac, enabling them to undertake EORE sessions for children and caregivers in Tripoli and its surroundings, Mizdah and Sabha.
• Key risk education messages have been included in the ongoing Rapid Response Mechanism; between December 2019 and January 2020, an estimated 3,010 internally displaced individuals, including children, received key safety messages during emergency distributions.
Moreover, efforts are underway through active engagement between UNICEF, LibMAC and the Ministry of Education to integrate key emergency Explosive Ordnance Risk Education in the school curricula for primary, middle and secondary education.
Additionally, adolescent specific emergency Explosive Ordnance Risk Education is in the final design stage with the aim to begin tailored interventions for this vulnerable target group.
In 2020, UNICEF Libya will continue to mobilize resources to scale up EORE interventions and target priority locations as identified in the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2020 or reported by national authorities, including in Al Kufra, Benghazi and Sabha, as well as support the integration of EORE in the school curricula. Without additional 540,000 USD in 2020, at risk conflict affected children will have their life threatened from the risk of mines and ERW a they will not be able to access life-saving explosive ordnance risk education.
Wissam is a 13-year-old from Tripoli who has been living in an IDP centre since the increase in violence in Western Libya in April 2019. He recently admitted, at a UNICEF supported EORE session, that he liked to collect empty bullets for fun and play with them. Like all children, Wissam has an affinity for play and is extremely curious. After attending the risk education session, Wissam said that he would no longer collect empty bullets. "When I return to my home and school after the end of the war, I will not approach dangerous items and places and I will warn my friends and relatives as well, so as to protect them from danger."
Rana is from Tawergha, an area in Libya that has been heavily impacted by the conflict in Libya. She attended a UNICEF supported session on the dangers of explosive remnants of war and mines that was conducted by a community liaison team in Tawergha. One evening, a group of children and adolescents in the neighborhood were collecting wood and grass when a small explosion, caused by an explosive remnant of war, occurred.
Rana heard the explosion and thanks to her training knew instantly what to do. "As I learned from Mrs.
Salma from the Risk Education team, I alerted the children about the danger of their behavior and that they may be get injured or die if they touch, collect, or burn these suspicious and dangerous objects and that they must inform an adult. I informed Mrs. Salma about what happened after" Rana told us.
For more information, contact Alla Almsri, Communication Officer, UNICEF Libya +218 91 00 12 129,