Weapons: a daily threat to people’s lives
The fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and Libya’s descent into chaos has led to a proliferation of arms and an escalation in fighting between militia groups. In response, Handicap International is providing the population with risk education on firearms, mines and explosive remnants of war. Over the last four years, the organisation has educated 120,000 people at greatest risk from these weapons, most of them children.
A risk education session in a school, Handicap International Libya | © J-J. Bernard / Handicap International
Ten risk educators are touring cities in western Libya, such as Tripoli and Gharyan, and surrounding areas, to explain the risk from firearms and explosive remnants of war to the local population, and what to do when they come across them.
Although they visit businesses and shops, they focus mainly on schools, because children, being naturally curious, are most likely to put themselves at risk. The educators teach them about the dangers and how to recognise these weapons. They warn children never to touch them and to alert an adult whenever they see one.
Handicap International has also trained more than 1,000 people, teachers, health professionals and journalists to inform and raise the awareness of the people they come into contact with.
Since 2011, the organisation has handed out 280,000 leaflets and put up 36,000 posters in Libya. It has also handed out 51,500 children’s notebooks, mostly during awareness-raising sessions in schools.
In February 2016, Handicap International began conducting community surveys to identify areas contaminated by explosive remnants of war and mines. The teams will mark these areas to alert people to the danger and to prevent access to them.