In 2011, the world watched as the country of Libya was engulfed in civil war. After some eight months of fighting, Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year reign was ended. But the true extent of the tragedy had only begun to surface: as many as 20,000 people are still missing, victims of the 2011 fighting along with many who perished during the Gaddafi regime. Tragically, unidentified human remains have been found at many mass graves sites scattered across Libya. There had been fears that many may never be identified or their bodies returned to grieving families because mass graves are being exhumed without proper procedures and, until now, no one has taken overall responsibility for it.
Working with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and the Ministry for the Families of Martyrs and Missing (MFMM), Life Technologies will provide a complete laboratory solution to identify those remains. Life Technologies will provide the Human Identification infrastructure, including the expertise, training, and the forensic instruments and materials to validate the workflow and process DNA samples through its Dubai-based distributor Integrated Gulf Biosystems (IGB). This identification work is expected to take several years.
The laboratory will utilize the latest generation of genetic analyzers and ancillary equipment and will be functionally validated under the quality assurance standards and guidelines required by the ASCLAD-LAB, SWGDAM and ISO 17025. Some training of Libyan scientists will take place in the United States under the direction and supervision of Dr. Arthur Eisenberg, a world renowned forensic scientist, leading up to the lab’s opening in Tripoli.
“The University of North Texas Health Science Center, with its extensive experience in the identification of missing persons and human decedents, is extremely pleased to partner with Life Technologies in the training of the Libyan forensic scientists to help them complete their mission,” said Dr. Eisenberg, Director of the UNT Center for Human Identification.
The humanitarian project is funded in part by Repsol, a Spanish-based oil company. Repsol donated $2.5 million to the Libyan government through its foundation in 2012 to help establish a state-of-the-art laboratory to identify and generate profiles from human remains and references from associated relatives of missing people.
As the people of Libya continue to work towards a brighter future, Life Technologies is optimistic that our work will help many bereft families find some closure. “It is our hope that many families will find the answers to what happened to their loved ones,” said Peter Silvester, President, Life Technologies, Europe, Middle East & Africa. “By providing the laboratory setup and forensic expertise we will help train Libyan scientists in the very latest instruments, technology and protocols to enable them in their work and help promote reconciliation in Libya.”