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Risk Education. Photo: UNMAS/Giovanni Diffidenti

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More than two years 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 explosive remnant of war (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) in Libya is estimated to be over 435,000 by the UNHCR. Currently there is no prospect of safe return for these IDPs before technical and non-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. In July 2014, hostilities intensified in Libya, fuelled by the political struggle between the House of Representatives and the General National Council. This political division is the focus of UNSMIL peace dialogues. In July 2014, the United Nations evacuated to Tunisia due to the extreme volatility of the political and security situation. UNMAS was able to maintain a limited presence in Libya until November 2014, and currently operates remotely from Tunisia. 


UNMAS focuses on the achievement of UNSMIL mandated objectives and those of the UNCT under the following pillars:

​​ERW contamination is severe in many urban areas of Libya, impacting on civilians remaining in those areas as well as on IDPs returning after violence abates.  The contamination additionally impacts on humanitarian actors working to provide or restore basic services to those civilians.  To mitigate the threat posed by ERW for civilians and returning IDPs, UNMAS liaises with the Libyan authorities to coordinate Explosive Ordnance Disposal activities and risk awareness and facilitate coordination meetings.  

UNMAS is focusing on the capacity enhancement of Libyan national mine actors.  UNMAS continues to support the National Mine Action Authority (LibMAC), in establishing processes for the accreditation of mine actors and their activities in Libya, and providing training and assistance in Quality Assurance.   UNMAS recently trained 50 National Safety Authority operators in advanced explosive ordnance disposal and has provided emergency trauma response training for mine actors in Sirte. UNMAS continues to provide technical advice to the LibMAC, and is assisting in the drafting of National Mine Action Standards.

Prior to the evacuation, UNMAS provided technical and operational support to Libyan national institutions to strengthen the country’s security structure and ensure Libya’s compliance with international standards.  UNMAS provided technical and chemical safety training to Libyan Air Defence for the removal of dangerous chemicals from damaged missile systems. UNMAS has recently developed a discussion document for Arms and Ammunition Management in Libya, to assist a Libyan Government to address the management of arms and ammunition stockpiles. Currently, UNMAS is conducting a gender-based projects to empower Libyan women to deliver risk education on Small Arms Light Weapons (SALW) to strengthen community resilience. 


 UNMAS faces a significant funding shortfall for both arms and ammunition and humanitarian mine action projects. UNMAS aims to implement and continue progress on the technical frameworks, assessments and training packages that have been developed during the evacuation in 2015 and 2016, in partnership with counterparts at a local and national level. Furthermore, UNMAS seeks to re-initiate training and implementation of the ammunition storage area survey, which was delayed due to security conditions.

Updated: March 2017

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  • Since 2011 384,310 assorted ERW devices and approximately 54 tons of Small Arms Ammunition have been cleared across Libya​
  • In 2016 over 84000 Libyans received risk education, helping them to live more safely with the threat of ERW
  • 50 EOD operators have received updating training; the National Authority (LibMAC) have received training in Quality Assurance, IMSMA and accreditation systems; 12 EOD operators for Sirte have received  emergency trauma training; and 32 EOD operators have been trained to carry out Non Technical Survey  according to International Mine Action Standards


Libya: Bridging the Gap in Victim Assistance

On 27 and 28 July, Libyan authorities and civil society organisations, UN ent