Libya Weapons Threaten Security, Human Rights Watch Warns (VIDEO)
Huge numbers of Libyan weapons are up for grabs in warehouses near Sirte, the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch inspected two abandoned weapons storage facilities near Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, and found unsecured mortar rounds, munition, aerial weapons and surface-to-air missiles.
"The surface-to-air-missiles can shoot down a civilian plane flying as high as 15,000 feet and we found some of Russia's most advanced surface-to-air-missiles," says Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director at Human Rights Watch. "These facilities are still completely uncontrolled. We could literally have come here with a convoy of eighteen-wheeler trucks and wield away whatever we wanted without being noticed," he added.
Empty boxes for surface-to-air missiles suggest that some missiles have in fact already been looted.
The United States has sent 14 weapons experts to the country and already spent $6 million to help secure thousands of surface-to-air missiles that have gone missing since the beginning of the fighting. According to officials, the State Department is working with Congress to increase funding to $40 million.
Canada also committed $10 million to help secure Libya's arms stockpiles, the Associated Press reported in October.
Without international aid, Libya's weapons may fall into the hands of anti-government forces or radical Islamist organizations.
Peter Bouckaert: "Now that fighting has ended, one of the NTC's top priorities should be securing weapons facilities, and bringing the unchecked flow of arms in the country under control. The evidence at these sites indicates that there is no time to waste."