20 June 2013

Last month, thirteen people representing Libyan civil society organizations attended a two-day training on the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions, hosted by Handicap International in Tripoli. Participants were recruited from fledgling peace and security organizations who see Libya’s accession to the two treaties as a shared goal.

The training included technical information on the weapons as well as information on organizing and running advocacy activities and steps to achieving effective mobilization, and is part of HI efforts to engage and strengthen civil society organizations within Libya working on landmine and cluster munition issues. Among those present were Rudwan Abdullah from Asalama (meaning “safety” in Arabic) and Khairi Dyabe, with the Libyan Organization for Demining and Development.Both organizations are interested in taking on advocacy roles with respect to mine action in the country and both Abdullah and Dyabe joined the ICBL delegation for the 27-30 Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) Intersessional meeting in Geneva.

Asalama has conducted demining efforts since 2011 when there were as many as 600 deminers in the country following the collapse of the Qadaffi Government, and contributed to the subsequent clearance of some 60,000 known mines. That number has diminished to some 100 persons conducting demining today, according to Abdullah. “Qadaffi forces took an estimated 100,000 landmines from then existing stockpiles, and their location is unknown today, representing a huge civilian danger,” he said.

The Libyan Organization for Demining and Development has worked primarily on risk education, said Dyabe.Following their participation in the MBT Intersessional meeting, the two will meet with CSO peers, to share information from the meeting and to discuss formation of a Libyan campaign coalition.Civil society activity in this area is a relatively new phenomenon in Libya according to HI’s Catherine Smith, who helped to organize the May workshop. Creating a national mine action network will take time.