As a result of conflict with Ethiopia and two decades of civil war, Somalia is littered with explosive remnants of war (ERW), stockpiles of weapons, and ammunition. The use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by armed groups compounds the threats facing communities, the Government, and aid organisations.
UNMAS became the lead UN agency for mine action in Somalia in 2009. The UNMAS programme provides three distinct types of programming: 1) support to peacekeeping through the Explosive Management Support to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) project; 2) Explosive Management Support to the Security Sector, including arms and ammunition management; and 3) humanitarian/stabilisation support.
Activities 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: capacity development of Government mine action personnel and police EOD capacity; EOD, and battle area clearance for the most vulnerable sectors of the population, predominantly through AMISOM; Training for AMISOM in counter-IED operations; Supporting mine/ERW/IED awareness activities to minimize civilian death and injury.
On 16 March UNMAS started a training course for six Somali Police Force (SPF) EOD operators with the objective of introducing a Counter-IED (CIED) capacity into the federal police. UNMAS also initiated joint EOD and CIED training for SPF EOD and the AMISOM police bomb squad throughout March and April, and aims to have fully trained and equipped the first SPF IED defeat team by the end of 2014.
Since UNMAS started training AMISOM in 2009, death of troops by IEDs has dropped by 85%, despite a 375% increase in IED use over the same period.
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. 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.
Security remains an issue for the deployment of clearance teams in South Central Somalia, with ongoing war and terrorist activity across large sections of the country. In spite of this, UNMAS has developed a methodology to enable operations, however funding for humanitarian and stabilisation work has not yet been mobilised.
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 2013, additional contributions totaling US$5.5million were provided via the VTF. To date in 2014 additional contributions totalling $6.5m from the UK, Cananda, Japan and Italy for further equipment, training and mentoring to Somali Police Force.
For 2014 UNMAS Somalia is seeking further funding to support lifesaving humanitarian programming and support to the Somali Security Sector, including US$1.7million for WAM and $8.8 million for clearance and support to the SPF EOD capacity. Funding will enable coordination and operational planning of HMA and WAM activities, fund deployment of demining teams, police EOD teams, EDD teams and MRE teams and will support government commitments in the area of international treaty compliance. In 2015 we envisage the requirement for an additional $8m in support of the Somali Police force, and $8million for humanitarian and stabilization operations.
Updated August 2014