Geneva – In a joint oral statement before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor warned against the serious risk of landmines planted by the Khalifa Haftar forces and their allied militias in populated cities in Libya, especially in Sirte.
In a joint statement with the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH) during the 45th session of UNHRC, Euro-Med Monitor stated that it documented how the Russian Wagner Militia, which is allied with the forces of Khalifa Haftar, planted a significant number of landmines in Sirte and the roads leading to it from the south and west. The militias took over and booby-trapped a large number of houses and farms in an attempt to impede any progress of government forces.
Rawane Matene, a researcher at Euro-Med Monitor, noted in the statement that these mines are designed, when touched, to cause death or permanent disabilities indiscriminately, where victims are often unarmed civilians.
Matene highlighted that in June 2020, more than 160 were killed and injured, including women, children, and mine-clearance teams due to the explosion of many landmines and explosive devices that the Haftar forces planted prior to their withdrawal from the south of Tripoli.
Euro-Med Monitor and GIWEH expressed their hope that the ceasefire would be a golden opportunity to stop the war and bring peace between the conflicting parties. They urged the UN to take serious actions to pressure Libyan parties and countries supporting them to stop their illegal practices, especially planting landmines that cause enormous financial and human losses.
The Euro-Med Monitor and GIWEH called on relevant UN bodies to scale up their efforts to combat landmines, either by providing necessary equipment or human expertise. The two organizations urged the UN to impose strict sanctions against parties that support those who plant mines and put civilian lives at risk.