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Risk Education. Photo: UNMAS/Giovanni Diffidenti

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More than three years of fighting between rival groups in Libya has been concentrated predominantly in urban areas. The current level of violence and destruction has far surpassed that experienced during the nine-month revolution in 2011. The ongoing conflict has resulted in significant ERW contamination in numerous cities across Libya and has impacted public infrastructure such as schools, universities and hospitals. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees in Libya is estimated to be respectively 217,002 and 278,559 by UNHCR . There is little prospect of safe return before non-technical and technical surveying, spot-tasking and/or battle area clearance are carried out. UNMAS and international partners rapidly deployed to Libya in March 2011 to respond to the ERW emergency throughout the initial conflict. In July 2012, UNMAS integrated into the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) as the Arms and Ammunition Advisory Section (AAAS). In July 2014, major hostilities resumed in Libya, fuelled by the political struggle between the House of Representatives (HOR) and the General National Council (GNC). This political division is the focus of the UNSMIL peace dialogue. At that time, the United Nations temporarily relocated to Tunisia, due to the extreme volatility of the political and security situation. Since then, UNMAS has been managing activities remotely, while still maintaining a limited presence in Libya.

[1] UNHCR Libya Response, October 2017


UNMAS focuses on the achievement of UNSMIL mandated objectives and those of the UN Country Team under the following pillars:

ERW contamination is severe in many urban areas of Libya, impacting on civilians after violence abates. Additionally, the contamination impacts on humanitarian actors working to provide or restore basic services to those civilians. UNMAS works remotely to mitigate the threat posed by ERW for civilians and returnees by liaising with the Libyan authorities to coordinate explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and risk awareness activities and facilitating coordination and technical meetings with stakeholders.

UNMAS has prioritised the capacity enhancement of Libyan mine action actors and continues to support the Libyan Mine Action Centre (LibMAC) in establishing processes for the accreditation and activities of mine action actors in Libya. Also, providing training and assistance in quality management. Since 2015, UNMAS has trained over 70 National Safety Authority (NSA) operators and Military Engineers in advanced EOD, 30 officers from eastern Libya in non-technical survey, and provided advanced medical first responder training to 72 EOD operators from Benghazi and several operators addressing the threat from explosive hazards in Sirte. UNMAS assisted the LibMAC in developing the Libyan Mine Action Standards which are now being implemented in Libya.

Prior to 2014, UNMAS provided technical and operational support to national institutions to strengthen security structure and support attempts efforts to comply with international standards. UNMAS provided technical and chemical safety training to Libyan Air Defence authorities for the removal of hazardous chemicals from damaged, obsolete missile systems. UNMAS has developed a Technical Framework for Arms and Ammunition Management in Libya, and technical operating procedures for high threat search and high risk clearance to assist national institutions in addressing the management of vast stockpiles of controlled and uncontrolled arms and ammunition, and the threat from improvised explosive devices. UNMAS is also currently funding the disposal of ERW stockpiles in Misrata and conducting a gender-based project to empower Libyan women to deliver risk awareness of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) to strengthen community resilience in Libya.


UNMAS faces a significant funding shortfall for both arms and ammunition and humanitarian mine action projects. UNMAS aims to support the implementation and continue progress on technical frameworks, assessments and training packages that have been developed between 2015 and 2017, alongside local and national counterparts. Furthermore, UNMAS seeks to re-initiate training and implementation of ammunition storage area surveys, which were halted due to security conditions.

Updated: March 2018

Programme of:



  • Since 2011, over 384,000 assorted explosive remnants of war (ERW) and approximately 54 tonnes of Small Arms Ammunition cleared across Libya

  • Since 2016, over 84,000 Libyans received risk education, helping them to live more safely with the threat of ERW

  • Since 2015, UNMAS Libya developed the capacity of more than 200 nationals in all aspects of mine action.


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