UNMAS operates in Somalia towards three separate but related projects. We function as an analytical strategic and technical advisory service and enabler of Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), African Union (AU) and UN peacekeeping, peacebuilding and stabilization goals:
UNMAS is mandated as part of the UN Support Office to AMISOM (UNSOA, a DFS mission) to deliver “IED threat mitigation and EOD activities” as part of the non-lethal logistical support package to AMISOM. AMISOM is a multi-dimensional peacekeeping force mandated to reduce the threat from Al Shabaab and support the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to consolidate control over territory. Al Shabaab regularly uses improvised explosive devices (IED) to target AMISOM and Government forces as they move on cities and main supply routes. Since 2009 UNMAS has provided training, mentoring, advice and specialized equipment on EOD, IED defeat, the use of explosive detection dogs, and route mobility in an IED context.
With an evolution in the capability and tactics of Al Shabaab, UNMAS has recently shifted its operations in Somalia from focusing heavily on the disposal of IEDs, towards enabling mobility, protecting infrastructure and contributing to stabilization through strategic and technical advice into AMISOM and UNSOA, at Force HQ and sector levels. UNMAS-provided trainers and embedded mentors within the AMISOM force support peacekeepers from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
UNMAS is mandated to support Somali security structures as part of the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). We provide strategic policy advice and coordination to FGS rule of law and security institutions including mine action and police, in line with Somali Compact Goal two on security. We also implement, through UNSOM, a specific mandate for WAM, in the context of the partially lifted arms embargo on Somalia.
UNMAS works primarily to support three Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) priorities:
Landmines or explosive remnants of war do not pose a large-scale humanitarian or development challenge in Somalia, with 30 killed and 54 injured by 32 different landmine and ERW accidents (predominantly the latter) during 2014. By contrast, almost 650 civilians were killed/injured by IEDs during this time. As such UNMAS no longer implements or funds landmine/ERW risk education and does not seek funding for clearance under the guise of it being a humanitarian priority. A number of NGOs, most notably the HALO Trust, are close to completing clearance in Somaliland, and a requirement exists for sustained funding, while the Puntland authorities have requested financial support from the United Nations to clear a limited amount of explosive hazard in the region. In South-Central Somalia, there is a limited amount of residual threat from a limited number of minefields along the border with Ethiopia, as well as ammunition storage areas and scattered UXO. UNMAS is exploring whether mine action can be a tool towards other FGS priorities, specifically stabilization through youth employment, and economic recovery (Somali Compact Goal 4 and UNSCR mandates associated with AMISOM and UNSOM as above). A pilot “employment through mine action” project started in May 2015 and will further define the scale of the threat and enable us to determine whether these interventions will be useful in the future.
Under the Global Protection Cluster and the Somalia protection cluster, an explosive hazard sub-cluster was initiated by UNMAS this year and will remain active until an FGS coordination mechanism is established, likely by the beginning of 2016.
Updated July 2015