TRIPOLI (AFP) – A top UN official called on Thursday for global funding to expedite the removal of thousands of unexploded ordnance littering Libya in the wake of the eight-month revolt against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Georg Charpentier, the world body’s deputy special representative for Libya, said the presence of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) posed danger to the local population, a UN statement said.
“Good progress has been made so far, but mine action organisations are stretched to the limit with many priority areas as yet unassessed,” Charpentier was quoted as saying after a visit to the western port city of Misrata.
“Further funding is necessary for operations to continue into the new year and to capitalise on the investment already made in equipment and training.”
The statement said that since the operation to locate, remove and destroy ERWs began in April, a total of 77,943 items of unexploded ordnance have been cleared across Libya.
It said clearing teams have also conducted mine risk education programmes to more than 26,623 people since April.
“However, this is just a fraction of the total contamination and the key challenge remains the capacity of organisations to scale up and respond quickly due to lack of adequate funding,” the statement said.
It said funding was essential until Libyan financial resources began flowing again.
NATO, which gave air support to anti-Kaddafi forces during the rebellion that ended in the lynching of Kadhafi by revolutionary fighters on October 20, had often accused the dictator’s diehards of laying landmines around Misrata.