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Tawergha: a dead city, contaminated by missiles, rockets and bombs.

Emergency Explosive weapons
Libya

A few kilometres south of Misrata, Tawergha has been a ghost town since it was hit by intense fighting in 2011. The streets are littered with missiles, rockets and other unexploded weapons and remnants of war. As the population gradually returns, HI has launched a clearance operation to reduce the threat to their lives.

One of the main streets in Tawergha

One of the main streets in Tawergha | © Simon Elmont / HI

Ghost town

The streets of Tawergha are littered with explosive remnants of war: rockets, missiles, grenades and ammunition that have not exploded on impact and still pose a danger to life. The inhabitants have fled the city and are unable to return home. Contamination by explosive remnants is one of the most serious consequences of fighting and bombing, and it has made the city impossible to live in.

Weapons clearance

HI’s team includes five clearance experts trained to remove explosive remnants from the city. Decontamination is one aspect of their work. Since early November, they have scoured the city in search of hazardous remnants to neutralise or destroy. They have an in-depth knowledge of weapons and know on sight if a missile can be moved or, if unstable, needs to be blown up on the spot.

Slow return of the population

Families are beginning to return to Tawergha, most only for a day or two to check on their homes, repair a wall or take a few possessions, before leaving again. One hundred or so families have returned for good. The start of the clearance operations has given people hope and they are trickling back to the city.

Free hotline

HI’s team has set up a hotline. They receive calls from local people every day, alerting them to the presence of suspicious devices. They are HI’s main source of information. The team collected some 40 explosive remnants in its first week. They are stored in a secure place awaiting destruction.

Risk education for the local population

A "Risk Education" team also travels around the city to tell residents about the dangers, and what to do and who to contact if they come across a dangerous weapon. Children are most at risk.

Help HI stop the bombing of civilians

The bombing of urban areas has a disastrous impact on civilians. HI has launched an international Stop Bombing Civilians campaign to put an end to this practice. Sign HI’s petition and say STOP to the bombing.

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