According to the Ministry for the Families of Martyrs and the Missing (MFMM), there are estimated to be up to 10,000 persons missing in Libya. This number includes persons missing as a result of the 2011 conflict, as well as those who went missing during Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, including in the 1977 war with Egypt, the 1979 war with Uganda, wars with Chad in the 1980s, and in the Abu Salim prison massacre in Tripoli in 1996.
In January 2012, the General National Congress (GNC), formerly the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), and the MFMM invited ICMP to help Libya locate, recover and identify these missing persons.
ICMP’s program in Libya has concentrated on the development of a Libya-led missing persons process that is non-discriminatory, scientifically valid and based on the rule of law. The program seeks to advance the engagement of civil society, especially families of the missing and to help the authorities set in place legal measures to safeguard the rights of families of the missing.
In November 2012, Libya and ICMP signed a Cooperation Agreement. ICMP established an office in Tripoli the following month. As part of the agreement, ICMP has helped to set up the Libyan Identification Center (LIC) as an initial and important step in enabling Libya to develop a sustainable and non-discriminatory missing persons process. The LIC should allow the Libyan authorities to coordinate the domestic missing persons process and international assistance efforts.
ICMP has also provided extensive training for Libyan experts involved in investigating mass graves, from field to mortuary training and other courses related to successful recovery and identification. To date, more than 50 MFMM staff have been trained.
A total of 137 DNA matches have been made since the beginning of the program. In addition, ICMP has been able to assist in resolving the case of Dr. Mansour Rashid Kikhia, a former Libyan Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United Nations who later opposed the Gaddafi regime and was believed to have disappeared in Egypt in 1993. His mortal remains were found in Libya.
A deteriorating political and security situation has affected ICMP’s capacity to operate in the country. In addition to paramilitary unrest, legal competency for missing persons issues has been contested among government agencies concerned