Pics of the Day: Celebrating Landmine Awareness Day in Libya
Three thousand people attended the 4th April celebrations in Misrata, which were organised by the local council and were aimed at children, who are at particular risk from landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Games and songs were used to highlight the dangers of these deadly objects, which to youngsters may seem like toys.
MAG staff gave “risk education” (www.maginternational.org/riskeducation) at the event, while our technical teams conducted a clearance demonstration.
All the operational mine action partners in the country took part in the celebrations, while visitors included representatives from the Libya Mine Action Centre, the UN Mine Action Service and the UK Embassy.
A similar event in Zintan, Libya will take place on Sunday.
“From now on I will never touch or move any explosive item”
By Jessica Riordan, Programme Officer, MAG Libya
Mr El Jetlawi can harvest his dates in safety now
Ahmed El Jetlawi is the head of a family of farmers near the Libyan coastal town of Misrata. He and his brothers manage 50 hectares of land for the benefit of more than ten families. As a result of the Revolution, the farm was littered with explosive remnants of war (ERW).
One of the teachers at Salah Uddine Alyoubi School in the Karzaz area of Misrata lives on the Jetlawi farm. When her class received a risk education session from MAG on the dangers of ERW and small arms and light weapons she knew at once to report a mortar that was in her garden.
Following the report from the teacher, the MAG Community Liaison team visited the farm and found Mr El Jetlawi busy collecting dates from the palm trees. He lives there with his wife and 12 children and four grandchildren.
He recounted his experience during the war:
“I stayed on my farm during the war period and many times I was working the land, ducking low in order to avoid bullets flying over my head. I collected vegetables and fruit and was delivering them to the rebels to support them in their fight for freedom.
“My farm was targeted many times during the war, some rockets and bombs did not explode, so I collected them and moved them to safe locations, out of the way, in order to keep using my land and safeguard my family from harm.”
Mr Jetlawi spoke about a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) which landed on his land ten days earlier from celebratory fire during a wedding, Mr Jetlawi was very shaken by this recent event, especially as his nine-year-old daughter, Iman, was with her brothers shepherding their animals in this same spot a few hours earlier:
“I shiver to think of the tragedy that this RPG could have caused had it landed few hours earlier or if it had landed on our house full of people”.
It took MAG’s technical clearance teams two days to remove/destroy the seven items, including four RPGs, a rocket, a mortar, and an 85mm projectile. Mr Jetlawi’s relief and appreciation of the dangers he and his family faced became clear as he spoke afterwards:
“I was always worried about these dangerous items and did not know who to turn to for their removal until MAG came to visit me.
“Now I understand the extent of the danger I was taking and the consequences. From now on I will never touch or move any item but immediately inform MAG about them.”
“I support MAG’s work for the professional yet friendly way they solved my problem. You made me feel proud that people like you take care of the dangers that keep us worried all the time.”
by Tony Belgrave, International Site Supervisor, MAG Libya
This video shows a PGM-500 (precision guided munition) being blown in place (BIP), having been found 1km from a new airstrip that is being built just south of Zintan on June 26th.
The PGM-500 is a short-range air-to-surface cruise missile that carries a 500 lb (227 kg) warhead. Also known as the ‘Hakim’, it was partially developed in the UK and only known to be in service by the United Arab Emirates.
For more information about MAG’s work in Libya please go to www.maginternational.org/libya.