A dusty gas mask left at the perimeter guard post hints at what lies beyond. Amid mounds of rubbish, broken furniture and loops of razor wire, abandoned chemical silos, factories and office blocks jut from the desolate scrub.

Ibrahim recalls the day almost 40 years ago when this place, Abu Kammash on Libya’s western coastline, offered overseas adventure and a well-paid career. He was one of many Libyans sent in the late 1970s to study in Europe, and then work at this huge petrochemical complex known as GCCI.

The Germans followed strict protocols on toxic waste. In Libyan hands, there were two options: bury it, or dump it in the sea.”

– Ibrahim, former GCCI worker