A dry erase board hangs on a classroom wall, scarred and ruptured by shelling, in the city of Sirte in Libya. A lone destroyed student desk also remains. Much of the city, the final stronghold of former Government forces, was destroyed during the weeks-long fighting there.
In February 2012, Libya marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of its civil war between the former Government and rebel forces of the National Transitional Council. Concluding in October 2011 with the overthrow of late former leader Muammar Gaddafi, the war destroyed much of the country’s vital infrastructure and killed thousands of people, displaced more than 200,000 and forced over 660,000 Libyans to seek refuge abroad. Since the end of the 10-month conflict, Libya has made significant strides toward recovery, including the progressive return of displaced people and refugees to their places of origin. Over 1.2 million children have returned to school. Still, the country remains in a state of transition, and public infrastructure and services have yet to be fully restored. Up to 80,000 people remain displaced; many, including former residents of the now destroyed city of Tawergha, are believed to have had associations with the former Government and, as a result, continue to endure attacks that only delay or prohibit their return home. Initiatives to clear unexploded ordinance (UXO) and explosive remnants of war (ERW), including landmines, are underway, but many areas are still unreached; in the two months following the conflict, five children were killed and 56 injured in still contaminated areas. And, many children continue to bear the psychological scars of the violence they have witnessed. UNICEF, in coordination with the Government and other partners, is supporting programmes in water, sanitation and hygiene; education; psychosocial support; and child protection, including workshops to educate children of the risks related to UXO and ERW.
© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0171/Giovanni Diffidenti