Decades of conflict in Somalia have resulted in contamination from explosive remnants of war (ERW), landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). While IEDs primarily target Government authorities and security forces, civilians are also heavily impacted, comprising 707 out of 1272 victims in 2016 (55%). Evidence suggests that ERW, including abandoned ammunition, have presented Al Shabaab and other opposition armed groups with the opportunity to harvest explosives or items that can be used to manufacture IEDs. Interventions alone cannot end the threat of IEDs in Somalia; this can only be achieved through political settlement, strengthened stabilization efforts and enhancement of security sector response.
UNMAS is mandated by UN General Assembly resolution 70/80 (2015) on Assistance in Mine Action. In Somalia, UNMAS deployed in 2008 focusing on humanitarian mine action activities and is now supporting two Missions:
UNMAS also has special status in the United Nations Country Team for coordinating humanitarian mine action activities under the umbrella of the Protection Cluster.
UNMAS SUPPORT TO UNSOM
Operating within UNSOM, UNMAS provides strategic policy advice and coordination support to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to meet its international treaty obligations and establish a common understanding of the mine action problem in Somalia and common agreement of solutions. Strategic and technical advice are provided to the Somali Explosive Management Authority (SEMA) to enhance its capacity to manage, regulate and coordinate mine action interventions, in addition to supporting the formal integration of SEMA into Government structures in line with the Government’s endorsed “Badbaado” plan – Somalia’s proposal for clearance of explosive hazards.
UNMAS continues to support the FGS in IED threat mitigation including by providing training, mentorship and advice to the security forces in IED detection and disposal. As such, UNMAS supported the development of Police bomb disposal teams in Mogadishu and in the regions, and trained the Somali Police in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD). UNMAS efforts have steadily bearing fruit. The Police have responded effectively to the spate of recent IED attacks in Mogadishu and bulk demolitions have been conducted with UNMAS technical support, enabling to destroy thousands of ERW dangerously stored in and around destroyed bunkers in the vicinity of Mogadishu. This capacity will remain crucial, especially since more violence is anticipated in the lead-up to the electoral processes in 2020.
UNMAS is also supporting the Federal Government of Somalia in weapons and ammunition management (WAM) in the context of the partial lifting of the arms embargo in Somalia by the United Nations Security Council, by providing technical support and strategic policy advice for the development and implementation of a comprehensive WAM system to ensure the safe and transparent management of weapons and ammunition, in compliance with international standards and obligations. UNMAS also offers guidance on appropriate storage of ammunition and coordinates the destruction of dangerous items.
UNMAS SUPPORT TO UNSOS
As a component of UNSOS, UNMAS provides advice, analysis, training, mentoring support and specialized equipment to AMISOM troop contributing countries, in support to planning and mobility operations. UNMAS also provides explosive detection dogs which contribute to an overall security plan for AMISOM, UN and Government infrastructure.
Providing AMISOM with an explosive hazard mitigation capability enables AMISOM to remain mobile despite the threat of IEDs and to protect its personnel and assets.
HUMANITARIAN MINE ACTION
UNMAS has provided support to enhance the protection of civilians and facilitate humanitarian access in areas contaminated by explosive hazards, through supporting and coordinating humanitarian mine action activities, such as survey, clearance and risk education. In 2016, UNMAS provided community based explosive hazards clearance along the border between Somalia and Ethiopia in the federal states of Galmadug and Hirshabelle, to reduce the threat posed by explosive hazards to communities living and working in the identified areas of intervention, while enabling financial injection into the local economy through employment of impacted and at-risk community members. The project has positive impact on the fragile living conditions of those people living in affected areas, particularly youth, who could easily be exploited by Al Shabaab and other opposition armed groups.
UNMAS and partners are supported by the United Kingdom and Japan through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action, as well as by assessed contributions under UNSOM and UNSOS. UNMAS will soon seek funding for further development of the Police EOD/IEDD plan, and encourages the international community to support the Badbaado plan.
Updated January 2017