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Libya: radio campaign warns of dangers of unexploded devices

22-11-2011 News Release 11/236

Tripoli/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Libyan Red Crescent are launching today a three-week radio campaign to raise awareness of the risks of explosive remnants of war among the population.

The danger exists in different places in Libya, but the campaign is primarily addressing people who are gradually returning to their homes in Sirte and Bani Walid. The heavy fighting which took place until last month left the two cities seriously contaminated by such devices.

"The threat to civilians in these urban areas, mainly from small unexploded weapons such as grenades, rockets and mortar shells, is severe," said Jennifer Reeves, an ICRC delegate. "In Sirte in the past week alone, two children playing with one of these devices and a young man cleaning his damaged house were badly injured. Many people are unaware of the dangers posed by ordnance which may explode at the slightest touch." Dozens of civilians have been killed or maimed in the country in similar circumstances in the past month. 

Five radio stations – Radio Bani Walid, Radio Libya and Sawt Trablus in Tripoli, Radio Libya Al Hurra in Benghazi and in Misrata – will broadcast the messages six times a day. The radio spots are part of a larger campaign to educate people about the risks of unexploded devices. Billboards, leaflets and posters are being displayed and distributed in contaminated areas, where volunteers, many of them from the Libyan Red Crescent, are spreading the word of warning.

For over a week, the ICRC has been physically removing explosive debris from the streets and people's homes in Sirte and Bani Walid. It has deployed an explosive ordnance disposal team, comprising two clearance experts, a doctor and a field officer, in each city.

The clearance operations are coordinated closely with the local authorities and supported by volunteers who collect reports from the population about unexploded devices. "In Sirte and Bani Walid we have been overwhelmed with reports from residents who are worried about the threat to themselves and their families," said Ms Reeves.

"Risk education is crucial to help people stay safe until the threat posed by explosive remnants of war is removed, which will take considerable time and resources in the heavily contaminated areas," she added. "We will work closely with other humanitarian organizations once they join the clearance and awareness-raising efforts in the two cities."

Since March, the ICRC has removed some 1,400 unexploded devices in places badly affected by hostilities, such as Ajdabiya, Misrata and the Nefusa mountains. It has also trained over 140 Libyan Red Crescent volunteers from nine local branches to raise awareness of the threat among the local population.

For further information, please contact:
Soaade Messoudi, ICRC Tripoli, tel: +218 913 066 198
Soumaya Beltifa, ICRC Benghazi, tel: +218 9 923 304 560
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50


Joint ICRC/Libyan Red Crescent leaflet warning people not to touch any suspicious objects and to report them to the authorities. 

Joint ICRC/Libyan Red Crescent leaflet warning people not to touch any suspicious objects and to report them to the authorities.

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