Children in Libya remain at risk from the remnants of the conflict.
Where can children still recovering from the effects of war play safely in a city that is littered with remnants of conflict, such as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms ammunition?
That’s a question being addressed by MAG and international charity Save The Children in Sirte, northern Libya, where the country’s revolution reached its climax last November.
Save The Children is working with communities, schools and families to establish ‘child-friendly spaces’, where children can carry out extracurricular activities freely among adults who can provide or seek out the support they need.
But prior to this, the areas must be cleared of the munitions that prey on the curiosity of children, causing tragedies such as that which happened when three-year-old Shada Yonis brought a hand grenade into the family living room.
That’s where MAG comes in, safely removing and destroying dangerous items. At the newest child-friendly space – the beachfront compound of the local Scouts group – our Battle Area Clearance teams removed five mortar fuses, a 122mm rocket, two rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), six mortars and small arms ammunition.
MAG searchers conduct a visual search in the Scouts compound. Anti–Gaddafi graffiti is visible in the background.
In addition to clearing the areas of deadly ammunition, MAG’s Community Liaison staff have given potentially lifesaving Risk Education to Save The Children’s employees.
This has provided them with crucial practical help on how to handle hazardous situations, such as when a child brings a dangerous item to them or where they themselves encounter explosive remnants of war (ERW).
“It has been critical to have a partner like MAG always ready to assist with our programmes,” says Will Harper, Save The Children’s Child Services Advisor. “MAG has allowed our programmes to reach more kids in a more meaningful way.”
“The Risk Education training session will ensure that our team members are equipped with skills and information. The training was provided for our entire team – programme staff, security guards and drivers.”
MAG began working in Sirte last December, when intervention was desperately needed to tackle the extreme levels of contamination.
Schools in the city have been cleared of ERW to ensure safety for children in the new school year, while MAG Community Liaison staff have given Risk Education to more than 1,500 pupils.
MAG clearance teams in Sirte are funded by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT); the Community Liaison teams are funded by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
4 May 2012