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: 8 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 279 IED incidents which have resulted in the death of 119 people, and the injury of 453 more. There were 87 civilian victims of IEDs in 2015, while MINUSMA troops and Malian Defense and Security Forces remain severely impacted (244 MINUSMA victims and 130 MDSF victims since July 2013). Thus far in 2016, there have been 69 IED incidents, resulting in 40 people killed and 90 injured.
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.
The United Nations Mine Action Service (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 humanitarian mine action, UNMAS implements, supports and coordinates humanitarian mine action activities which include: survey, marking and clearance of prioritised dangerous areas; explosive hazards risk education; and victim assistance.
In 2016, UNMAS directly supports the training and deployment of risk education teams which are operating in areas at risk to raise awareness among the population about the danger of mines and explosive remnants of war, but also to map the extent of the contamination by conducting non-technical surveys. In Gao and Timbuktu, UNMAS promotes the empowerment of survivors of explosive incidents. At 30 June 2016, 8 survivors have been identified and trained to deliver risk education for communities, which will also enable the educators to advocate and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. In the same regions, with UNMAS support, a project to respond to the needs of 50 additional survivors has also started, through the delivery of socio-economic and physical rehabilitation support and within the broader responses to injury and disability. In parallel, humanitarian actors are trained as trainers in explosive awareness to enhance protection and humanitarian access in areas the most affected by the ongoing crisis.
UNMAS further ensures that international partners work in compliance with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) through quality assurance in all areas of deployment, from its field offices in Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, Mopti and Tessalit. A gender assessment is underway to improve the quality and impact of the humanitarian mine action response in Mali.
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 mentorship of the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF).
In addition, 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. At the request of the national authorities, UNMAS has assessed over 30 ammunition storage facilities and stockpiles of ammunition. Following these assessments, a total of 290 tons of obsolete, unsafe and unserviceable ammunition were safely destroyed since 2014, with the support of UNMAS. Over 200 tons of additional explosive ordnance are currently being destroyed, which will be the largest stockpile to be disposed of by a national authority with UNMAS assistance to date.
UNMAS also advises the National Commission against 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 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 Kingdom of the Netherlands for in-kind support.
UNMAS activities in Mali are implemented with participation of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Gender and mine Action Programme (GMAP) and Handicap International (HI), as well as The Development Initiative (TDI), Dynasafe MineTech International and G4S.
Updated July 2016