At the request of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), UNMAS deployed mine action staff to Mali in January 2013 in the immediate aftermath of the crisis to conduct an emergency assessment of explosive threats in support of Security Council Resolution 2085 (2012). Now mandated by SCR 2100 (2013) UNMAS contributes to the following objectives:
Recent and on-going armed conflict in Mali has created a problem of weapon and explosive contamination which is impacting the civilian population and stabilization efforts. This impact includes the potential loss of life and injury of people within affected communities but also the safe return of refugees and IDP's. Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and landmines are also adversely affecting livelihoods, freedom of movement and economic recovery, as well as the safe deployment of national and international forces and extension of state authority. Since January 2012, 100 civilian casualties have been confirmed as a result of ERW, of which more than half are children. Since 2013, 210 Malian forces, peacekeeping troops, French forces, civilians and others have been killed or injured by IEDs.
Working with the Malian Defence Security Forces (MDSF), UNMAS is developing technical capacities to enable the National Authorities to safely manage explosive threats. In addition to having delivered explosive awareness training to 1,859 MDSF personnel, UNMAS has provided intermediate level EOD training for 82 personnel from the MDSF. 20 more students are currently training in EOD level 1 with the Humanitarian Demining Training Centre (CPADD) in Benin to further establish an operationally independent Malian EOD and bomb disposal capacity.
UNMAS has also begun evaluating the state and storage of weapon and ammunition stockpiles to identify immediate threat reduction measures and the requirements for physical refurbishment. Ammunition Safety Management training has also been delivered for a total of 60 MDSF personnel. Moreover, technical support is being provided to the National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to enhance its capacity to coordinate mine action activities and to comply with regional and international treaty obligations.
UNMAS provides explosive threat mitigation support, facilitating freedom of movement for peacekeeping and civilian personnel, and ensuring safety for the delivery of MINUSMA’s mandate. Given the ongoing and steady drawdown of French troops, the mitigation of explosive threats in northern Mali has become an intrinsic mission requirement to ensure stability.
Thus far, UNMAS has delivered explosive awareness training for 4,314 uniformed UN personnel and 1,563 United Nations staff at the request of UNDSS (SSAFE training).
Specialized training, technical assistance and equipment has furthermore been delivered to the recently deployed MINUSMA EOD and IED-Disposal companies ahead of their deployment to Northern Mali as of May 2014. In addition, UNMAS provides technical expertise to MINUSMA contingents for safe handling, storage and disposal of weapons and ammunition during the course of disarmament initiatives.
As coordinator of Humanitarian Mine Action activities and partners, UNMAS is tasking and supporting the deployment of international Mine Action operators to accessible priority areas with a view to survey, mark and clear dangerous areas, as well as to provide risk education and victim assistance to affected communities. UNMAS further ensures that international partners work in compliance with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) through the deployment of Quality Assurance Officers in all areas of deployment from its Operational Field Offices in Sévaré, Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.
To date, 925 villages have been surveyed, leading to the safe destruction of 1,272 items of UXO’s from priority contaminated areas. Moreover, more than 31,000 people have been reached with risk education.
UNMAS in Mali thanks its bilateral donors: Estonia, France, Japan, the UK, and the USA, and the in-kind assistance from Benin, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Updated June 2014