Humanitarian Mine Action refers to activities aimed at significantly reducing or completely eliminating the threat and impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) upon civilians and their livelihoods. This is achieved through minefield survey and marking, mine clearance, and mine risk education. To increase efficiency and effectiveness, an increasingly important aspect of mine action is priority setting and planning.
The number of mine-affected countries reporting organized mine clearance operations continued to increase in 2002 and 2003, as did the reported areas of mine-affected land that were cleared of landmines and UXO. Peace agreements and cease-fires in Angola, Sri Lanka, and Sudan enabled the expansion of mine action activities. Two more mine-affected countries joined the Mine Ban Treaty, including Afghanistan, one of the world’s most mine and UXO contaminated countries. Transparency reporting by mine-affected States Parties increased, as did participation by these countries in key meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty. Landmine impact surveys continued in key mine-affected countries. More generally, survey and assessments of the problem became more common. These activities helped in the development of clearance priorities and strategic national clearance plans. The number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in mine action increased, both internationally and nationally. Coordination systems for mine action were established in a number of countries during the reporting period.
Massive amounts of mine action funding and assistance in 2002 and 2003 were devoted to Afghanistan and Iraq. Some saw this as a disproportionate amount of resources, to the detriment of other mine-affected countries and areas. In July 2002, mine clearance in Eritrea was set back considerably when the government disbanded its existing coordinating bodies, closed the national mine action NGO, and expelled most international mine action NGOs.
Many States Parties are beginning to approach the mid-point for the ten-year deadline for clearance of all mined areas, as required by Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty. The first deadline will be 1 March 2009, for 14 of the first States Parties to the treaty. Another 11 countries have deadlines later in 2009 and eight have deadlines in 2010. Increased attention is being paid to these and other States Parties to assist them in reaching their goal.
Some States Parties have confused the former “2010” demining policy goal of the United States government with the ten-year treaty-mandated deadline. Others have set clearance goals that stretch past their treaty-mandated deadline. Elsewhere, there has not even been an acknowledgment of the problem, let alone the treaty deadline.
It is instructive to look at the status of the 14 States Parties with the first deadlines in March 2009: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, Djibouti, Honduras, FYR Macedonia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Peru, Senegal, United Kingdom (Falklands/Malvinas), Yemen and Zimbabwe. Mine clearance is underway in most, but not all of these countries.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council of Ministers in April 2003 approved a demining strategy for 2002 to 2010, which has the objective of freeing the country from the threat of mines and UXO by 2010.
- In May 2003, Croatia expressed its intention to be mine-free by March 2009.
- The Skallingen peninsula in Denmark was heavily mine-contaminated in World War II. It is now a protected natural reserve, and there are no mine clearance programs at present.
- Djibouti should be “mine-safe” by the end of 2003, according to the US State Department.
- The final clearance operation in Honduras is scheduled for completion by the end of 2003.
- Some mine clearance is occurring in FYR Macedonia, where the mine problem is relatively limited. However, FYR Macedonia’s most recent Article 7 transparency reports provided no information on mined areas or mine clearance.
- Malawi acknowledged suspected mined areas along the border with Mozambique in its initial Article 7 report submitted February 2003 and is seeking funds for survey and demining activities.
- According to Mozambique’s national mine action plan adopted in 2001, the mission of the plan is to create a “mine-impact free” country within ten years.
- Recent fighting in the north has left Namibia with a mine problem. But, Namibia still has not submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report, originally due by 28 August 1999, and its long-term mine action plan remains unknown.
- In 2002, the Organization of American States (OAS) estimated that it will take eight to nine years to complete mine clearance operations in Perú, because of technical issues and extremely difficult conditions, and said the aim is to declare Perú “mine safe” in 2010.
- In Senegal, the director of the military engineers stated that a systematic humanitarian mine clearance program remains impossible as long as there is no peace agreement with rebel forces in Casemance. A mine clearance plan has been developed, which would be carried out in three phases over a five-year period.
- Using the results of a Landmine Impact Survey, Yemen developed a five-year strategic plan to clear the fourteen highly affected communities by 2004; by the end of 2002, six of these communities had been cleared and declared safe.
- In October 2001, the United Kingdom and Argentina agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a feasibility study on mine clearance in the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands. No significant progress was made to initiate the feasibility study during 2002 or the first half of 2003.
- In Zimbabwe, a National Authority on Mine Action was established in 2002 to formulate a national mine action plan.
Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty requires “destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas....” (emphasis added). The ICBL and many others have for years used the term “mine-free” to describe the central goal of eradication of antipersonnel landmines. Increasingly, other terms are being used to describe the objective, such as “mine-safe,” “risk-free,” and “impact-free.” In the coming years, these terms need to be discussed more thoroughly, and there needs to be a better articulation of precisely what the objective means, as the international community continues to grapple with a solution to the landmine problem.
Landmine Monitor Report 2003 has identified 82 countries that are affected by the presence of uncleared landmines and unexploded ordnance. In addition, Landmine Monitor identifies nine other areas (noted in italics in the chart) that are not internationally recognized states, but which Landmine Monitor researches and reports on because of their particular mine-affected status.
Landmine/UXO Problem in the World
Africa Americas Asia/Pacific Europe/Central Asia Middle East/North Africa AngolaBurundiChadDR CongoDjiboutiEritreaEthiopiaGuinea-BissauLiberiaMalawiMauritaniaMozambiqueNamibiaNigerRwandaSenegalSierra LeoneSomaliaSudanSwazilandUgandaZambiaZimbabweSomaliland ChileColombiaCubaEcuadorGuatemalaHondurasNicaraguaPeruVenezuelaFalkland/Malvinas(UK) AfghanistanBangladeshBurma (Myanmar)CambodiaChinaIndiaKorea, DPRKorea, ROLao PDRNepalPakistanPhilippinesSri LankaThailandVietnamTaiwan AlbaniaArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusBosnia&HerzegovinaCroatiaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkGeorgiaGreeceKyrgyzstanFYR MacedoniaMoldovaPolandRussiaSerbia&MontenegroTajikistanTurkeyUkraineUzbekistanAbkhaziaChechnyaKosovoNagorno-Karabakh AlgeriaEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanKuwaitLebanonLibyaMoroccoOmanSyriaTunisiaYemenPalestineWestern Sahara
Bold: Non-States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
Landmine Monitor has removed nine countries from last year’s total of 90 countries, and added one. Costa Rica declared itself mine-free in December 2002. The Republic of Congo was removed from the list, as no known mined areas were reported in the country, although its border with Angola may be mine-affected. In El Salvador, Estonia, Hungary, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, and Mongolia the problem is predominately, in some cases exclusively, due to UXO, and very limited in its impact on the civilian population, with very few or no casualties recorded in 2001, 2002 or 2003. There is still a need for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) in these countries.
Venezuela was added to the list of mine-affected countries after it acknowledged in its initial Article 7 report that it has 1,063 antipersonnel mines emplaced in six locations.
Over half (45) of the 82 mine-affected countries are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, including two that joined the treaty in the reporting period (Afghanistan and Cyprus). Bangladesh stated in its Article 7 Report that “No known mined areas exist within the territory of Bangladesh.” However, landmines are found along a 208-kilometer-long area of the border with Burma, in Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Philippines also indicated in its Article 7 Report that it is not mine-affected, but it has stated that improvised mines, booby-traps, and other explosive devices used by insurgent groups are cleared by army ordnance and demolition teams. Landmine Monitor has reported that new mines are laid each year and there are new casualties each year.
Survey and Assessments
There is still a lack of knowledge in many mine-affected countries as to the extent of the landmine problem, including credible, detailed information as to the exact location of mined areas. In a number of non-signatory countries with no humanitarian mine action programs, there is very little publicly available information on the extent of the mine problem. This is the case, for example, in Burma, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.
The extent of the landmine problem, including the location and impact of mined areas, must be known in order to develop strategic mine action plans. Various forms of landmine surveys or assessments are generally utilized to assess the landmine problem.
A Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) is designed to look at the impact of landmines on communities in order to help authorities develop strategic plans to reduce impact. The Survey Working Group is the coordinating body for most LIS operations, with the Survey Action Center (SAC) as the executing agency.
Landmine Impact Surveys were completed in Cambodia, Chad, Mozambique, Thailand, and Yemen in 2000 and 2001, and a modified survey was carried out in Kosovo. UNOPS reports that it completed an LIS in northern Iraq in 2002. LIS began in Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lebanon, and Somaliland in 2002. All are due for completion in 2003, except Eritrea, due in 2004. LIS got underway in Afghanistan and Angola in 2003. In Vietnam, the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) plans to start an LIS in 2003. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Somalia (Puntland), and Sudan are under consideration for LIS.
In 2002 and early 2003, Landmine Monitor recorded other general surveys and assessments of the mine problem in 32 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, DR Congo, Ecuador, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Serbia and Montenegro, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam, and Yemen, as well as Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. In many instances, surveys preceded clearance operations, while others represent an initial assessment or survey to gain a better picture of the problem from which to plan a response.
Among the notable survey and assessment developments in 2002 and 2003 are the following. HALO Trust surveyed three former Soviet army military bases in Georgia in June 2002. In Armenia, deminers conducted a survey in one of the most mine-affected regions in the country. In Iraq, UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), VVAF, and MineTech are conducting emergency surveys/assessments. In Tunisia, MAG conducted an assessment of the country’s landmine problem in December 2002, while UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) undertook an assessment mission there in January 2003. In 2002, UNMAS also conducted an assessment mission to Mauritania and a technical mission to Cyprus. In Vietnam, several local surveys were conducted by the Canadian company Hatfield Consultants, in partnership with an office of Vietnam’s Ministry of Health.
The Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) assists mine action programs with data collection and mapping of information collected on affected areas, mine clearance, mine casualties and other relevant information. According to the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), IMSMA has been installed in 29 countries, including Albania, Armenia, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, DR Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, Sudan, and Zambia in 2002. Version 3 of IMSMA became available in 2003.
A total of 38 of the 45 mine-affected States Parties had submitted transparency reports as required under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty, as of 31 July 2002. Angola, Eritrea, Liberia, Namibia, and Sierra Leone are late submitting their initial Article 7 reports. Article 7 reports for Afghanistan and Cyprus are not due yet.
Some form of mine clearance was reported to have taken place in 2002 and the first half of 2003 in 63 countries identified as mine-affected. There is humanitarian mine clearance underway in at least 35 countries and instances of limited mine clearance in 32 countries. No mine clearance was recorded in 16 mine-affected countries.
Humanitarian Mine Clearance Activities
Humanitarian mine clearance by international, national, and non-governmental actors was underway in at least 35 countries in 2002 and 2003. This includes 24 States Parties: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Costa Rica, Croatia, Djibouti, DR Congo, Ecuador, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, FYR Macedonia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, Thailand, and Yemen. It also includes 11 non-States Parties: Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Vietnam. There are also humanitarian mine clearance programs in Abkhazia, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Somaliland.
Transparent reporting on developments relating to demining is essential for efficient deployment of resources to high priority areas. Inconsistent reporting makes it difficult to identify the accumulated land cleared and returned to communities. There are often significant differences in the mine clearance figures provided in a country’s Article 7 report, provided by the national coordination body, and provided by various demining NGOs. Landmine Monitor had particular difficulty in obtaining comprehensive and consistent figures for clearance in 2002 in Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique.
In some instances, international non-governmental organizations were primarily responsible for the humanitarian mine clearance, in cooperation with local authorities. In 2002, NGOs increased their demining activities in a number of countries, most notably in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sri Lanka. Major international demining NGOs include DanChurchAid (DCA), the Danish Demining Group (DDG), the HALO Trust (HALO), Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), and Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD).
- In Abkhazia, HALO cleared 858,688 square meters of mine-affected land in 2002.
- In Albania, DCA and FSD conducted impact surveys that resulted in the release of almost six million square meters of suspected dangerous land in 2002, while technical survey released a further 675,000 square meters, and clearance freed up 450,000 square meters of mined land.
- In Angola, mine action NGOs reported the clearance of more than 2.8 million square meters in 2002 and the first quarter of 2003.
- In Chad, the NGO HELP reported that it cleared a total surface area of 1,935,000 square meters in 2002, destroying 2,970 mines and 6,904 UXO.
- In Eritrea, DDG cleared a total of 154,000 square meters of land from January until the July 2002 proclamation expelling mine action NGOs. DCA cleared 250,500 square meters of mine-affected land between 1 June 2001 and July 2002. HALO was asked to cease operations in May 2003, after having been permitted to continue their operations after July 2002.
- In Mozambique, the National Institute for Demining (IND) reports that 8.9 million square meters of land was cleared in 2002, a slight increase from 8.7 million square meters cleared in 2001. Conflicting numbers were reported by various demining NGOs, however.
- In Nagorno-Karabakh, HALO cleared 380,386 square meters of land in 2002. In 2003, activities increased dramatically resulting in 810,743 square meters of land cleared between 1 January 2003 and 1 June 2003.
- In Somaliland, three NGOs (DDG, HALO, and the Santa Barbara Foundation) carried out demining activities in 2002, clearing nearly 1.7 million square meters of mined land, and 20 million square meters of battle area.
Indigenous or national non-governmental demining organizations operated in a number of countries in 2002.
- In Afghanistan, demining activities by national and international NGOs expanded dramatically as the mine action budget more than quadrupled. In 2002, mine action agencies cleared 22.5 million square meters of mined land, and 88.6 million square meters of former battlefields, compared to 15.6 million square meters of land cleared in 2001.
- In Azerbaijan, two national mine clearance NGOs cleared a total of 1,118,000 square meters of land in 2002.
- Ethiopia’s first humanitarian demining NGO, Ethiopian Mine Action Office (EMAO), began demining operations in mid-2002 and by January 2003, it had cleared 396,555 square meters of land.
- In Guinea-Bissau, the mine action coordination center CAAMI reported in June 2003 that 390,000 square meters of land had been cleared since 2000. According to the UN Development Program (UNDP), the demining NGO HUMAID cleared 333,240 square meters of land between November 2000 and February 2003. A second domestic mine clearance NGO, LUTCAM, started field operations in February 2003.
- In Iraq, mine action programs were initiated for the first time in southern Iraq after the main fighting ceased in April 2003. Before this, four local NGOs operating with UN support, MAG and NPA were conducting mine clearance in Kurdish areas in the north of the country. NGOs DCA, FSD, and MineTech started demining activities in 2003.
- A local NGO Community Motivation and Development Organization (CMDO) launched a new humanitarian pilot mine clearance program in one part of Pakistan in early 2003.
- In Sudan, mine clearance activities expanded in 2002. Those active included DCA and Landmine Action, local NGOs Operation Save Innocent Lives (OSIL), and Sudan Integrated Mine Action Service (SIMAS), and, for a limited period, the US’s Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF).
In a number of countries, humanitarian mine clearance is carried out by a combination of NGOs and national army or police deminers.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Mine Action Center reported in February 2003 that approximately 6 million square meters of land was cleared in 2002, compared with 5.5 million square meters in 2001. The total amount cleared in 2002 was still significantly less than planned.
- The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) reports that approximately 34.7 million square meters of land was cleared in 2002, as compared to 21.9 million square meters of land cleared in 2001. The increase was primarily due to expanded clearance by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
- The Croatian Mine Action Center (CROMAC) reported that 60 million square meters of mined land was deemed mine-free in 2002, including approximately 31 million square meters cleared in demining operations. In 2001, 13.6 million square meters of land was cleared, to a large extent using mechanical devices.
- In DR Congo, between June 2001 and April 2003, Handicap International Belgium cleared 25,756 square meters of land in and around Kisangani. In May 2003, it was forced to stop demining activities due to a lack of funds. Limited mine clearance has been also been conducted by militaries and the UN.
- In Laos, a funding crisis led to significantly scaled-back clearance operations in mid-2002 and to the lay-off of nearly half of UXO LAO’s operational capacity. Operations have since gradually been resumed and staff re-hired. In 2002, 8.4 million square meters of land was cleared and 98,963 items of UXO destroyed.
- In Lebanon, the Army reported demining 1.7 million square meters of land in 2002. As part of the $50 million United Arab Emirates “Operation Emirates Solidarity,” two commercial companies cleared 3.9 million square meters of land in South Lebanon in 2002.
- In FYR Macedonia, a total of nearly 3.9 million square meters of land was cleared in 2002, by various actors including NATO and Macedonian security forces, Handicap International and MineTech.
- The Sri Lankan Army Engineers report that approximately 16.36 million square meters of land was cleared in 2002. The February 2002 cease-fire increased the number of mine action NGOs in the country from none in 2001 to five in 2002 and 2003 (DDG, FSD, HALO, MAG, and NPA).
- The People’s Army of Vietnam is the primary agency involved in clearance in that country, but others engaged include border guards, commercial military companies, and five international NGOs.
National armies and police conduct mine clearance in a number of countries. In almost all of the following instances, the clearance could be viewed as humanitarian, but more information is required, especially on quality assurance procedures.
- A unit of the army of Djibouti, together with US commercial contractor RONCO, cleared 4,986 square meters of land in 2002.
- In Guatemala, clearance operations in San Marcos department were completed on 15 December 2002, with 8,342 square meters of land returned to communities.
- In 2002, the Greek Army demined 66,000 square meters of land in its northern regions, as part of an ongoing clearance operation.
- The Royal Jordanian Corps of Engineers cleared 20 minefields in 2002, which allowed a major national irrigation project to proceed.
- The Kosovo Protection Corps operations cleared 203,360 square meters of land in 2002. Fourteen new dangerous areas were discovered.
- In Mauritania, a total of 5,294 mines and 5,098 UXO were cleared and destroyed between April 2000 and April 2003 by the government’s National Humanitarian Demining Office.
- In Rwanda, deminers from the National Demining Office, under the Ministry of Defense, cleared a total of 1,220 mines and 27,791 UXO from 1995 to 2002.
- The Thailand Mine Action Center reported the clearance of 368,351 square meters of land in 2002.
- In Yemen, the National Mine Action Committee reports that in 2002 seven mine clearance teams cleared 18 known mine-affected areas covering approximately 1.18 million square meters.
The Mine Action Program (AICMA) of the OAS works with national armies in Central and South America.
- In December 2002, Costa Rica declared itself mine-free. According to an OAS update, a total of 338 landmines were removed from along the Nicaraguan border from 130,000 square meters of land.
- Engineer units of the Ecuadorian Army conducting mine clearance have cleared a total of 4,573 mines since commencing operations.
- In Honduras, the Army and OAS are responsible for demining operations, clearing a total of 16,700 square meters of mine-affected land in 2002.
- The Engineer Corps of the Nicaraguan Army cleared 339,032 square meters of land in 2002, destroying 5,479 antipersonnel mines.
- Peruvian Army Engineers completed mine clearance of the Zarumilla Canal in 2002, as well as its source at La Palma and the area leading to the international bridge at Aguas Verdes. National Police and deminers hired by the Industrial Services of the Navy cleared and destroyed 17,651 mines from around 668 high-tension electrical towers between June 2002 and May 2003.
Other Mine Clearance Activities
Limited mine clearance was underway in at least 32 countries in 2002 and 2003, including ten States Parties (Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Namibia, the Philippines, Serbia and Montenegro, Tajikistan, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and 22 non-States Parties (Armenia, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan), as well as in Chechnya, Taiwan and Western Sahara.
Limited clearance by military and other entities, such as explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units of national police responding to emergencies necessitating the clearance of landmines or UXO, was recorded in Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Kuwait, Moldova, Oman, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.
Some countries during this reporting period conducted mine clearance operations to facilitate military operations. Limited military mine clearance for tactical purposes was noted in Burma, Burundi, Russia (Chechnya), Colombia, Nepal, Philippines, Uganda, and Uzbekistan.
Limited mine clearance to maintain minefields was noted in Cyprus and Israel.
- In Burma (Myanmar), the practice of so-called atrocity demining continued as the military forced civilians to walk in front of them in order to detonate mines.
- In December 2002, China reported that new mine clearance activities had started along its border with Vietnam following the signing of a bilateral border agreement, in which the two counties agreed to complete technical surveys of mined areas by 2005.
- The armies of India and Pakistan apparently began systematic clearance along the border in October 2002, following the withdrawal of their troops from the area. Pakistan states that it has cleared most of the minefields, while India states that 85 percent of the mines it laid have been retrieved.
- In 2002, the Kyrgyz military reportedly began clearance in some areas, but, according to the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service, stopped due to disputes about the border.
- Starting in September 2002, North and South Korea both undertook mine clearance in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to prepare for a transportation project. This is believed to be the first mine clearance inside the DMZ.
- In southern Serbia, the Army and Ministry of the Interior deactivated or destroyed 6,654 mines and 223,058 items of UXO, including cluster bombs, from May 2001 to December 2002.
- Demining by the Turkish Army of the border with Bulgaria border was completed in mid-2002.
- In Egypt, commercial companies undertook some limited mine clearance for economic development purposes.
- In Namibia, the Namibia Development Corporation funded the clearance in 2002 of dozens of 30-hectare plots in the West Caprivi region.
- In Taiwan, a commercial company (BATEC) removed a total of 5,165 antipersonnel mines from an area of 66,362 square meters on the southern side of the Shang-Yi airport on Kinmen Island in 2002. According to reports the Ministry of National Defense there are no more mined areas left in inland parts of the island.
- The UN reported that in the Western Sahara, the Royal Moroccan Army carried out 36 mine disposal operations and the Polisario Front carried out nine such operations between April 2002 and January 2003. In May 2003, the UN reported that the Royal Moroccan Army had carried out another 16 mine disposal operations in Western Sahara.
- Zambian Army deminers, in consultation with RONCO, began clearance operations in May 2002 clearing roads along Lake Kariba to open up the area for a US$50 million World Bank development project.
In addition, clearance initiatives conducted or implemented by villagers or mine-affected communities were recorded in countries including Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, and Pakistan. In Cambodia and Laos, governmental mine action agencies requested such initiatives be banned.
No Clearance Activities
No mine clearance of any type was noted in 2002 in 16 mine-affected countries, including 12 States Parties (Algeria, Bangladesh, Chile, Denmark, Liberia, Malawi, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tunisia, and Venezuela) and four non-States Parties (Cuba, Libya, Somalia, and Syria), as well as Palestine and the Falkland/Malvinas (UK).
Planning for humanitarian mine clearance is underway in States Parties Algeria, Chile, Niger, Tunisia, and Venezuela.
The UN Mine Action Service continued its emergency response programs in Eritrea, FYR Macedonia and South Lebanon in 2002. It also established new emergency coordinating programs in DR Congo and Sudan. UNMAS also took responsibility for coordinating the UN Mine Action Program in Afghanistan, and for coordinating the UN response to the emergency in Iraq. The US Quick Reaction Demining Force, based in Mozambique, was deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Sudan during 2002 and 2003.
Planning and Coordination
In 2002 and 2003, increased attention was paid to the development aspect of mine action, instead of viewing it as just an emergency and humanitarian aid activity. Donors and mine-affected countries are acknowledging that mine action activities must be part of other rehabilitation and long-term efforts, and that these activities must dictate much of the priority setting within humanitarian mine clearance.
In this reporting period, there has been increased focus and attention paid to planning and coordination needs. Most donor countries are now emphasizing the need for mine-affected countries to develop a strategic mine action plan focusing on priorities for clearance, and to accurately document overall progress. Without information from surveys, planning systems, and a well-structured coordination body, mine-affected countries and donor countries will continue to experience a lack of accuracy in mine action data. This in turn leads to difficulties in measuring effectiveness and efficiency of mine action activities.
Landmine Monitor 2003 noted some form of coordination and planning body in place in 37 of the 82 mine-affected countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Djibouti, DR Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, Serbia and Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tajikistan, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. There are also such bodies in Abkhazia, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Palestine, and Somaliland.
Some coordination developments in the reporting period include:
- In May 2002, Chile’s National Demining Commission was established by an official decree. It was not, however, officially constituted until 19 August 2002.
- In July 2002, Eritrea announced the establishment of the governmental Eritrean Demining Authority to manage and coordinate mine action activities in the country. At the same time, NGOs such as DCA, DDG and the Mine Awareness Trust were expelled from the country and, in June 2003, HALO was also asked to leave.
- In Palestine, a national Mine Action Committee was created in August 2002 consisting of Palestinian Authority agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF, UN Relief and Works Agency, and relevant NGOs.
- The Peruvian Center for Mine Action, “Contraminas” (Centro Peruano de Acción contra las Minas Antipersonales) was officially created in December 2002.
- In Sri Lanka, the National Steering Committee on Mine Action (NSCMA) was established in late 2002.
- UNMAS established a National Mine Action Center in Khartoum, Sudan in February 2003.
- In Zimbabwe, a National Authority on Mine Action was established in early 2002, in addition to the Zimbabwe Mine Action Center.
National mine action plans are important planning tools to help meet clearance deadlines for mine-affected States Parties. National mine action plans can also help ensure that clearance benefits the most heavily impacted mine-affected populations and supports the national socio-economic development of the country. A mine action plan also enhances transparency with donors, and provides a base for accountability with the mine-affected communities.
During this reporting period, Landmine Monitor recorded a national mine action plan in 22 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sudan, Thailand, Zimbabwe, and Yemen. A number of countries were in the process of drafting and approving plans.
Some planning developments in the reporting period include:
- In Afghanistan, a strategic plan released in early 2003 proposes that with adequate funding all mines in high-priority areas can be removed in five years under an accelerated demining program.
- In Albania, a national mine action plan was developed during 2002, with the assistance of UNDP, with the aim of completing mine clearance by 2006.
- In Angola, joint UN/NGO/government assessment teams conducted the first phase of a Rapid Assessment of Critical Needs process, in which teams visited 28 locations where internally displaced persons (IDPs) had returned to previously inaccessible areas. They found that 26 of the 28 locations were seriously mine-affected.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council of Ministers approved a demining strategy with the objective of freeing the country from mines and UXO by 2010.
- In Cambodia, a mine action activity plan has been prepared for integration into the country’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy and policy guidelines have been developed for a long-term mine action strategy.
- In Chad, a National Strategic Plan for the period 2002-2015 was developed in 2002, using the results of the Landmine Impact Survey completed in May 2001. It forms part of the country’s National Strategy to Reduce Poverty: 2001-2015.
- In 2003, the DR Congo submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report identifying 165 mined or suspected mined areas in 11 provinces.
- In Ecuador, a National Mine Clearance Plan for 2003-2004 was approved in December 2002.
- In March 2003, the Egyptian Cabinet agreed on a national plan to clear mines and develop the country’s northwest coast.
- In Iraq, several surveys and assessments were either planned or underway by June 2003 to make up for a lack of contamination data on the south and center of the country prior to March 2003.
- In Mozambique, a Five-Year National Mine Action Plan was developed for the period 2002-2006, using the findings of the Landmine Impact Survey completed in August 2001. Mozambique reports that mine action is integrated into the government’s Absolute Poverty Reduction Plan.
- In Tajikistan, the State Mine Clearance Program (SMCP) was formed in 2002 in order to develop a mine action plan.
International Developments – Coordination and Information
The Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Related Technologies met in February and May 2003. Belgium and Kenya acted as co-chairs. Cambodia and Japan were co-rapporteurs; they will become co-chairs in September 2003. During the 2003 meetings, the Committee focused on developments in and activities of mine-affected States Parties. At the February 2003 meeting, seventeen States Parties provided updates on mine action implementation plans and progress. In May 2003, sixteen State Parties made presentations. Four mine-affected countries that have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty also presented on mine action activities: Iraq (presented by UNMAS), Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey. Documents presented at the Standing Committees are available at www.gichd.ch.
In May 2003, a new “tool” was introduced to assist mine-affected States Parties in reporting on their activities. The “4P” approach, developed by the Implementation Support Unit (ISU), calls for reporting on Problems, Plans, Progress, and Priorities. The Committee co-chairs hope that the 4P approach will improve efforts to measure mine action progress and to identify challenges, especially as the States Parties increasingly focus on the need for compliance with the ten-year deadline for mine clearance.
The ICBL Mine Action Working Group (MAWG), chaired by NPA, presented at both the February and May Standing Committee meetings. The MAWG stressed the importance of participation by mine-affected States Parties in the intersessional work program. In addition, MAWG underlined the continued need for transparency in reporting on mine action results. MAWG highlighted the ten-year timeframe for complete clearance of all mined areas and the importance of effectively measuring progress and assessing remaining challenges.
The Steering Committee on Mine Action (SCMA), chaired by UNMAS with participation from various demining NGOs, the UN, International Committee of the Red Cross, and others, met three times during 2002 to discuss issues of priorities in mine action, country developments (in Afghanistan, Angola, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, as well as Chechnya), and the establishment of the Rapid Response initiative. The SCMA formed an ad-hoc task force to investigate growing differences between the UN and mine action NGOs in the field. UNMAS also chaired the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action, an internal UN group that met monthly during 2002 to coordinate UN mine action response.
The UN Mine Action strategy was updated in July 2003 after consultations within the mine action community, and with mine-affected and donor governments. Among other items, the revised strategy reflects technical and methodological developments, the increased involvement of mine-affected countries in planning, coordinating and executing humanitarian mine action programs, and the important role of mine-affected communities themselves.
A major issue relating to mine action coordination during this reporting period was the importance of integrating a country’s mine action plan into a Development Plan or Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan. Landmine Monitor notes that five countries are reporting mine clearance activities and mine action plans as components of the country’s Development or Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan: Cambodia, Chad, Mauritania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
According to the United Nations Development Program, it is providing assistance for the management of mine action programs in 23 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Yemen. The UNDP has also continued to develop and expand its Mine Action Exchange program (MAX), which facilitates the exchange of expertise, information, technology and facilities among mine-affected country programs. In 2002, program participants came from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Croatia and Mozambique, and in 2003, there are plans to expand the program to include Cambodia, Yemen and other countries.
The International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) are guidelines for mine action activities aimed at helping practitioners and authorities monitor and conduct mine action activities in accordance with internationally set standards and safety levels. It is also hoped that the IMAS will constitute the basis for any national mine action standards and standard operating procedures used by mine action operators. The review board on IMAS met in January 2003 to review how the international standards have been adopted and adapted as national standards. Currently, the mine action community has endorsed 27 standards and another five are under discussion. The IMAS can be viewed online at www.mineactionstandards.org.
The Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining issued several mine action studies in 2002 on topics including socio-economic approaches to mine action, Mine Risk Education, mine action and mechanical demining equipment, metal detectors, and Explosive Remnants of War.
In September 2002, UNMAS released an interactive CD-ROM containing numerous important mine action and advocacy-related documents. In 2002, UNMAS strengthened and expanded its Electronic Mine Information Network (E-MINE), available at www.mineaction.org. The stockpile destruction database developed by Canada was integrated into E-MINE.
The Mine Action Support Group (MASG), the New York-based group of mine action donor governments, met almost every month during 2002 and 2003. The Permanent Mission of Belgium to the UN chaired the MASG in 2002, while the Permanent Mission of Germany was chair in 2003. In 2002, the MASG received briefings from mine action teams from countries including Afghanistan, Angola, Eritrea and Sudan, as well as UNICEF, UNDP and UNMAS. It initiated field visits by donors to programs in Cambodia and Laos in 2002 and the Balkans in 2003. The MASG issues a monthly newsletter detailing minutes of its meetings, donor activities, and highlights from mine action programs.
An informal Resource Mobilization Contact Group was established during the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, with Norway as chair. The group is tasked with exploring all possible avenues for mobilizing resources to achieve the humanitarian aim of the Mine Ban Treaty. The group focuses on resource mobilization among traditional donors, multilateral agencies and development banks, mine-affected States Parties, other mine-affected states and non-traditional state donors, as well as the private sector. In May 2003, the group looked at how mine action can be seen as both a humanitarian and a development activity, providing opportunities for flexible financing. Mine-affected States Parties were encouraged to integrate national mine action plans with the country’s Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan.
Demining Technology Research and Development
Landmine Monitor Report 2003 notes various research and development (R&D) projects by donor countries and mine-affected countries. As in previous years, it is often difficult to demonstrate the impact these projects have in the field.
In May 2003, Belgium presented a paper on mine action technologies, problems and recommendations, which identified collaboration between end-users, donors and technology experts as the major need in the R&D field. The paper acknowledges that the R&D community must improve the manner in which real needs are addressed, as opposed to assumed or presumed needs.
In 2002, Croatia established a Test and Evaluation Center and invited interested states and actors to use its services. In cooperation with Sweden and the GICHD, the Croatian Mine Action Center has taken responsibility for establishing standards for testing of demining machines and techniques. In 2002, nine machines and 86 mine detection dogs were tested in Croatia.
In South Africa, a study is being undertaken to establish an integrated regional capability linked to national programs and activities. The study examines mine detection dog capability, electronic and mechanical equipment, and technologies that support mine survivors.
 Those with deadlines later in 2009 include Chad, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jordan, Malawi, Nicaragua, Niger, Swaziland, Thailand, Uganda and Venezuela. Those with 2010 deadlines include Argentina, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Liberia, and the Philippines.
 Northern Iraq is no longer being reported separately from the rest of Iraq.
 Bangladesh, Article 7 Report, Form C, 29 April 2003.
 Philippines, Article 7 Report, Form C, 14 May 2003.
 This includes Costa Rica, which declared itself mine-free in December 2002.
 Among those presenting at the meetings were: Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Croatia, Cyprus, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, FYR Macedonia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Peru, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Zambia.