08 July 2011

Researchers from Human Rights Watch have found hundreds more landmines laid close to the town of al-Qawalish in western Libya.

Despite repeated condemnation from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and States Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, Libyan government forces continue to use this indiscriminate, internationally banned weapon. "It is appalling that Gaddafi's forces continue to use mines when they know the devastating impact they have," said Kasia Derlicka, director of the ICBL. "The fact that they are close to a town makes their use all the more dangerous for civilians," she added.

At least three new minefields containing both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines have been discovered near al-Qawalish. Some of the mines were found around a scout hut that government troops had used as a base before fleeing the town. All three minefields were in areas used by civilians. "It is sickening to think what would have happened if the young people who used this scout hut had found this minefield before the rebel soldiers did". "We would like to urge the whole global community, and particularly those states who are party to the Mine Ban Treaty, to join with us in strongly condemning this ongoing use of landmines by Gaddafi's forces. Such use must stop before any more lives and limbs are taken," Derlicka said.

Human Rights Watch found that deminers from the rebel teams had cleared about 250 T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines and 46 Type 72SP antivehicle mines from the area, with a lot more left to be done. In total, Human Rights Watch has confirmed government use of five types of landmines in seven separate locations in Libya.