The International Committee for the Red Cross has been working from its offices in Tripoli and Benghazi to help victims of the conflict in Libya in many different ways. One of these ways is clearing unexploded or abandoned explosive devices left behind after the fighting.
Libyan civilians are exposed to the dangers of unexploded or abandoned explosive devices in many places, such as Ajdabiya, Misrata and Benghazi, where intense fighting has taken place. Injuries, mainly to children, have been reported in the past few days.
In Ajdabiya, in addition to facing uncertainty about the evolution of the fighting, many people are not able to return to their homes because of the threat posed by unexploded munitions. Such devices include rockets, shells and mortars. They can be found anywhere in residential areas, even in gardens, or inside houses or public buildings.
“On 3 May we started clearing dangerous devices in parts of Ajdabiya,” said Herby Elmazi, the ICRC delegate in charge of the clearance operation. “This is the beginning of a sustained effort to reduce the weapon contamination hazard for the civilian population. The effort will hopefully be extended to conflict-torn Misrata in the near future.” ICRC experts mark the most affected areas before proceeding with the safe removal or deactivation of dangerous devices. “The ICRC is the only organization with a fully operational team currently able to clear these kinds of devices in Libya,” added Mr Elmazi.
The ICRC clearance team is working in close cooperation with Libyan Red Crescent volunteers, who are playing an essential role in determining which areas in Ajdabiya have been contaminated. They convey the information to the ICRC team so that it can proceed with the clearance operation.
The ICRC also launched a campaign to raise awareness among civilians of the risks posed by unexploded ordnance. In cooperation with the Libyan Red Crescent, it is organizing information sessions and distributing posters and leaflets to alert the population.
Read more about this and the other ways in which the ICRC helps civilians here.