Making Libya Safer Through Safe Storage, and Demolition, of Ammunition
Tripoli, 3 July 2014 - On 18 June 2014, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) handed over a temporary Ammunition Storage Site to local authorities in Zintan, in the West of the country, part of UNSMIL’s efforts to work with local partners to make Libya a safer place.
The project aims to reduce the threat of uncontrolled explosions in the local community by collecting ammunition from the areas around Zintan and storing it in a safe manner. Local personnel were trained in ammunition management and will now guard and control the site.
The following week, 600 kilometres to the southeast, in the central part of Libya, 52 tonnes of explosive remnants of war (ERW) went up in flames in a controlled explosion at the Suknah Ammunition Storage Area. The demolition was carried out by UNSMIL’s international partners away from populated areas and following five days of rigorous planning, consultation and coordination with the local authorities, who made appropriate arrangements to ensure that the population of the area are made aware of the activity and would not be affected in any way by the blasts.
This latest demolition brings the total amount of ERW from the Suknah region destroyed to 1,146.6 tonnes. With more collected ERW ready to be destroyed, the work to clear the area of ERW will continue in the months ahead.
Safe storage and demolition of ammunition is critical to Libya’s safety. The urgency of this issue was tragically brought to the forefront last November, when an explosion at an arms depot near Sabha caused the death of more than 40 people. In response to that incident, only one of numerous that have happened involving ERW and storage areas across the country, the United Nations dispatched a team of experts to assist in the aftermath.
UNSMIL’s Arms and Ammunition Section supervised the construction of the Zintan site that was handed over in June, which consists of two rows of 15 compartmentalized ammunition storage areas. As per an agreement signed with Zintan authorities in 2013, UNSMIL experts will continue to offer technical assistance and visit the site to ensure proper storage procedures are being followed.
Whether among the Western mountains or in the middle of the central desert, UNSMIL is working with local authorities and international partners to make all of Libya safer. Through explosive ordnance disposal, technical advice, risk education and stockpile management projects, UN experts lead and coordinate the international community’s efforts pertaining to humanitarian mine action and arms and ammunition management.