Human rights organisations and the top UN envoy in Libya have warned that many weapons stockpiles in Libya still have not been secured properly by the Libyan Interim Government, following the fall of Gaddafi’s regime. They also complain that many weapons have already gone missing from the unguarded weapons sites. The top UN envoy Ian Martin also highlighted the difficulty in preventing weapons from the sites being smuggled out of the country, given Libya’s vast desert borders. He went on to call for securing the sites to become a top priority.
During the eight month long civil war in Libya that saw the Gaddafi regime come to an end, it became a common occurrence for reporters and human rights workers to come across weapons dumps that had been left unguarded as troops loyal to Gaddafi fled. Many were looted during this period and there are concerns about the widespread availability of such weapons within the country. Many also fear that anti-aircraft missiles and other bombs that have gone missing could be smuggled into Europe or the US and used by terrorists.
In an interview on Sunday, Mr Martin did say the country had made progress in securing chemical weapons and nuclear materials leftover from the previous regime. Libyan officials revealed last week that they had discovered two chemical weapons sites that the Gaddafi regime had failed to inform the UN about when Gaddafi promised several years ago to stop his non-conventional weapons programmes. Officials also said they had discovered around 7,000 drums of raw uranium.
The prime minister, Abdurrahim el-Keib, elected by the National Transitional Council, stressed the importance of forming new security forces for the country quickly to help deal with problems such as the unsecured weapons. It is expected that the country will hold its first elections by the end of June.