Decades of conflict in Somalia have resulted in contamination from Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and landmines. In 2015, 54 civilians were killed or injured by ERW and evidence suggests that ERW and abandoned ammunition has presented Al Shaabab with the opportunity to harvest explosives or items that can be used to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). While IEDs primarily target Government authorities and security forces, civilians are also heavily impacted comprising 454 out of 887 victims in 2015. Interventions alone cannot end the threat of IEDs in Somalia; this can only be achieved through political settlement, enhanced intelligence or military victory.
UNMAS deployed to Somalia in 2008 to support Humanitarian Mine Action activities and has since evolved its activities to support two separate Missions under the umbrella of: the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), a Special Political Mission mandated to provide strategic, policy and technical advice to the Government and national security institutions; and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) , a Department of Field Support Mission mandated to provide non-lethal logistical support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). UNMAS also has special status on the UN country team for coordinating humanitarian mine action activities under the Protection Cluster.
As a component of 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. The FGS ratified the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention which entered into force in October 2012 and the Convention on Cluster Munitions which entered into force in March 2016. The Somali Explosive Management Authority (SEMA), under the Ministry of Internal Security, is responsible for regulating the response to clear residual explosive hazards under the umbrella of the Government endorsed “Badbaado” plan. UNMAS provides strategic and technical advice to SEMA to manage, regulate and coordinate mine action interventions, in addition to supporting the formal integration of SEMA into Government structures. Funding is now sought to implement the Badbaado plan and the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action is available as a funding mechanism.
Secondly, as a component of UNSOM, UNMAS supports the FGS to lessen the impact of IEDs by empowering the State with technical skills to detect and dispose of IEDs. UNMAS has supported the development of Police ’Bomb Disposal’ teams in Mogadishu and in the regions to mitigate explosive threats. UNMAS provides strategic and technical advice and training to the Somali Police in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Improvised Explosive Device - Defeat (IEDD) in line with the requirements of the national police plan (Heegan Plan) and the new Policing Model.
Finally, as a component of UNSOM, UNMAS supports the FGS to implement a comprehensive Weapons and Ammunition Management (WAM) system. The FGS requested support from the UN to develop a comprehensive WAM system to ensure the safe and transparent management of weapons and ammunition from reception, to distribution, to verification, in compliance with international standards and sanction obligations. In collaboration with UNSOM Security Sector Reform (SSR) section, UNMAS provides technical support and strategic advice with regards to the management of weapons and ammunition, and closely works with the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) in the implementation of the project. UNMAS technical advisors also offer guidance to the ONSA on appropriate storage of ammunition and coordinate the destruction of dangerous items.
UNMAS, as a component of the UNSOS non-lethal logistical support package, provides advice, analysis, training, mentoring, specialized equipment, explosive detection dogs and clearance teams in support of AMISOM planning and mobility operations. 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.
UNMAS and partners are supported by the United Kingdom and Japan through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action and through assessed contributions under UNSOM and UNSOS. UNMAS will soon seek funding for further development of the Police EOD/IED defeat plan, and encourages the international community to support the Badbaado plan.
Updated September 2016