Following the outbreak of conflict in 2012, explosive hazards became a new threat in Mali, with a broad-ranging, detrimental impact on safety and freedom of movement in the central and northern parts of the country.
Civilians living in areas affected by explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of clashes, returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in danger of injury or death (2012: 51 victims; 2013: 54 victims; 2014: 37 victims; 2015: 37 victims; 2016: 23 victims). This contamination also impedes the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians, as well as access to livelihoods, freedom of movement and economic recovery for the population.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) emerged as a weapon of choice for perpetrators of violence in Mali. Since the deployment of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in July 2013, UNMAS has recorded 369 IED incidents which have resulted in the death of 149 people, and the injury of 545 more. While MINUSMA troops and Malian Defence and Security Forces are severely impacted (279 MINUSMA victims and 223 other militaries), civilians are also affected (189 casualties since July 2013). In 2016, there were 137 IED incidents, resulting in 254 casualties.
Despite the efforts of the Malian authorities, the national capacities for mitigating explosive risks remain limited. Additional efforts are also required to ensure safe and secure storage of weapons and ammunition, as well as the disposal of obsolete and unsafe ammunition to prevent accidental explosions and theft.
UNMAS is mandated by United Nations General Assembly resolution 70/80 (2015) on Assistance in Mine Action. In Mali, UNMAS is also mandated by UN Security Council resolution 2295 which prioritizes the protection of civilians and stabilization efforts, as well as the enhancement of national capacities in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and weapons and ammunition management (WAM).
PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS AND SUPPORT TO THE HUMANITARIAN SECTOR
As national focal point for mine action, UNMAS implements, supports and coordinates humanitarian activities which include: survey, marking and clearance of prioritised dangerous areas; explosive hazards risk education; and victim assistance. In addition and, every time an explosive hazard incident involving civilians takes place, UNMAS ensures that the needs of victims are met by coordinating the immediate deployment of a team to liaise with the relevant medical services, but also to gather information about the incident and other potentially contaminated and to prevent further accidents there through providing emergency risk education.
UNMAS further ensures that international partners work in compliance with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) through quality assurance, from its field offices in Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, Mopti and Tessalit.
SUPPORT TO THE NATIONAL AUTHORITIES
UNMAS assists the national authorities in developing technical capacity to safely manage explosive threats, coordinate the explosive threat response and comply with International Mine Action Standards through the provision of training, technical equipment and support, and the mentoring of Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) personnel.
Additionally, UNMAS provides advice and training in weapons and ammunition storage and management to help the Malian authorities minimize the risk of accidental explosions or looting. A rehabilitation project for weapons and ammunition storage areas is ongoing with the MDSF. Following assessments, 17 sites have been rehabilitated to date, and a total of 341 tons of obsolete, unsafe and unserviceable ammunition safely destroyed since 2014, with the support of UNMAS. This is the largest stockpile disposed of by a national authority with UNMAS assistance to date.
UNMAS also advises the National Commission to Counter the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (CNALPC) on Mali’s international obligations regarding mines, ERW and weapons and ammunition, especially for the implementation of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
SUPPORT TO STABILISATION EFFORTS
UNMAS provides explosive threat mitigation support to MINUSMA, through technical advice and delivery of training, facilitating freedom of movement for peacekeeping and civilian personnel and improving safety for the delivery of the mission mandate. Specialized training, technical assistance and equipment have also been provided to the MINUSMA explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) companies.
UNMAS Mali is primarily funded through the MINUSMA Assessed Budget. UNMAS also thanks its bilateral donors: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as donors contributing to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in Mali, and Benin, Switzerland and the United States of America for in-kind support.
UNMAS activities in Mali are implemented with participation of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Handicap International (HI), The Development Initiative (TDI) and G4S.
Updated January 2017