As a result of conflict with Ethiopia and two decades of civil war, Somalia is littered with landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), stockpiles of weapons, and ammunition. According to reports, mine laying may have been occurring as recently as 2012 in the southern and central parts of the country and in the disputed Sool and Sanaag regions. The use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by armed groups compounds the threats facing communities and aid organisations.
In response, the United Nations has been engaged in reducing the mine and ERW impact for over a decade. As part of this initiative, UNMAS became the lead UN agency for mine action in Somalia in 2009. The UNMAS programme provides three distinct types of support: 1) lifesaving humanitarian programming; 2) support to peacekeeping through the Explosive Management Support to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) project; and 3) Explosive Management Support to the Security Sector.
During 2013, survey and manual demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and lifesaving outreach and radio messaging initiatives are being implemented in Somaliland, Puntland and south-central Somalia.
The activities which are undertaken by the UNMAS programme minimize the impact of explosive hazards for the Somali population living in contaminated areas, for humanitarian actors delivering lifesaving assistance, and enable AMISOM to fulfill its mandate with greater safety and freedom of movement. The programme does this through:
Although there has been no comprehensive landmine or ERW impact survey conducted for south-central Somalia, initial rapid surveys of Gedo, Hiran, Bay and Bakol regions and Mogadishu indicate that over one in ten settlements is impacted. All districts of Mogadishu are affected by ERW and stockpiles, and IEDs present a daily threat to communities, AMISOM peacekeepers and humanitarian actors.
With minimal national capacity in Government and civil society to address the mine, ERW and IED problem, UNMAS works to provide training and long term knowledge that will enable the Government to address the safety and security needs of its population. Despite having been more mine impacted than south-central Somalia or Puntland, an end state for mine action in Somaliland is in sight. An ongoing resurvey of Suspected Hazardous Areas has reduced their size and number by over 40 percent, greatly reducing the amount of work to be done. With existing assets, funding, and a stable environment, it is believed that all known minefields can be cleared in three to five years. Following this, Somaliland’s Police EOD capacity and other national assets will be in a position to address residual contamination.
Funding for UNMAS as a component of the United Nations Support Operation for AMISOM is US$42.4 million from the United Nations Peacekeeping Assessed Budget for the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. In 2012, additional contributions totaling US$15.2 million were provided for Somalia via the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF), and in 2013 an additional US$5.5million were provided via the VTF.
UNMAS Somalia VTF is fully funded for 2013 for existing project activities in support of lifesaving humanitarian programming, support the Somali Security Sector, and reinforce critical explosive management activities in support of peacekeeping. Additional contributions will enable expansion into newly accessible areas, and pave the way for humanitarian and early recovery initiatives by other actors.
Updated September 2013